Transcript: 60 Days of Prayer for 2016 General Conference
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(Locator: Portland, OR)
Jan Nelson: “There’s no way we could do it without prayer.”
Yvette Moore: “I am praying that God’s gonna meet us there.”
Jean Hawxhurst: "I’m praying that what we hold in common is Christ and that Christ will be what keeps us together."
The Rev. Tom Albin, Upper Room Ministries: “Regardless of whether you feel connected to the political and decision-making process, our denomination will only be as healthy as the prayer life of all of our people.”
The Rev. Tom Albin and his team from the Upper Room want to create an “atmosphere of prayer” around the 2016 United Methodist General Conference.
The Rev. Tom Albin: “In Kenya, and Kansas, and Connecticut, in any church, you’ll know the Scripture text, the theme and the main points.”
The Upper Room's 60 Days of Prayer guide, available free online in several languages, offers daily devotions and prayers for the days before, during, and after General Conference.
(The Rev. Tom Albin leads prayer bead workshop) “We’re actually praying with our hands.”
Every delegate will also receive a set of wooden Protestant prayer beads designed for 2016 in Portland.
The Rev. Tom Albin: “This is the Northwest, we're Earth people, hiking people. It needs to be woodsy. The unique thing is the medallion that has a picture of the Cross and Flame and a picture of a mountain goat because the theme is ‘Therefore go,’ and part of the worship is to go and find the lost sheep. The flame represents the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist merger in ‘68.”
Volunteers all over the world will string the beads, and pray over each set that goes to General Conference.
(The Rev. Tom Albin leads prayer bead workshop) “Think a little bit about who it is who’s going to receive it.”
In Tampa in 2012, handmade prayer mantles wrapped each delegate and church leader.
(Marcia McFee leads worship service in 2012) “People from all five jurisdictions in the U.S. worked on these.”
At General Conference, long days of discussion weigh on those setting the church’s course for the future.
The Rev. Tom Albin: “There are formal prayer services in the worship. But there are times when people just need to get away to a prayerful space after a difficult debate.”
A prayer room offers spiritual respite without leaving the venue. Ardis Letey designed this year’s space.
Ardis Letey, Prayer Room Designer: “There’ll be a fountain, remember your baptism. And another one with sand as a medium for prayer.’
Four spiritual directors will be available all the hours that the 2016 conference is underway, and coordinators are looking for experienced and objective prayer partners.
The Rev. Tom Albin: “Can you pray honestly with any person on any perspective? There’s a big difference between a prayer volunteer and a prayer lobbyist who’s already decided God’s will.”
General Conference can be a time of controversy and change. Albin says talking to other denominations has led him to believe that prayer is an essential element of the legislative process, before, during, and after.
The Rev. Tom Albin: “Many of their churches weren’t ready for the change. And they didn’t do anything to help them after the change was decided to understand, interpret, pray together. I’m hopeful that we United Methodists can be intentional about our life together before, during and after the United Methodist General Conference.”
United Methodists can make their own Protestant prayer beads like the ones given to each delegate at General Conference 2016. Kits with all the materials and the special 2016 medallions are available for purchase. Church members are encouraged to keep a set of prayer beads to use daily and to give a second set to a pastor, district superintendent or other lay leader or clergy member.