January 1 will lead off 131 days of continual prayer for the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (#UMCGC), which meets May 10-20, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. The quadrennial legislative event begins 131 days after the New Year. By coincidence, there are 131 annual (regional) conferences in The United Methodist Church.
The Council of Bishops has invited each of the annual conferences to host a 24-hour prayer effort on a specific date, with the intent of creating a groundswell of prayer in the days leading up to the General Conference. It is up to each conference to choose an available date and then design their own format for the prayer effort.
Missouri has selected March 7 as our 24-hour period of prayer. Clergy and laity will sign up to pray for 30 minutes on an online schedule. The link to sign-up is on the bottom of this page.
As the spiritual leaders of The United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops conceived the plan for a prayer vigil in the months before the event as a meaningful way to focus spiritually on the experience, as well as to surround the delegates and church leaders with prayer for a General Conference that inspires us in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
“United Methodists from all over the world will come together in the spirit of Christian conferencing in Portland,” said Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference and chairperson of the “Council Life Together” team, which helped initiate the idea. “We want those attending to know that their United Methodist family is praying for them and with them – that God will lead them in the decisions that they will make for the future of our church and that the event will be a positive Christian witness in how we conference together.”
“We are encouraging people to pray for God to guide delegates and church leaders as they prepare for General Conference,” said Bishop Al Gwinn, who chairs the Council’s prayer subcommittee.
“We hope they will pray that God would give them an understanding and loving heart; that all will have a spirit of humility and a desire to do God’s will; and that the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in such a way that all who observe would sense that true Christian conferencing will take place.”
The prayer effort will commence with the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, which volunteered for the start date of January 1.