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Transcript: General Conference 2016: A Place for Prayer


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(Locator: Portland, Oregon)

(Tom Albin leads group in prayer)

The Rev. Tom Albin, Upper Room Ministries: “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.”

Inside the Oregon Convention Center, site of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, hundreds of delegates tasked with doing future planning for the church have a dedicated space of spiritual retreat.

The Rev. Denise McGuiness, General Conference Prayer Team: “We invite you throughout this whole time to come visit us. Come and have quiet time with God and just center yourselves. So that we, together, can do God’s business.”

Melissa Engel, General Conference Volunteer: "Just like Jesus went away to pray, this is a nice place away from what's going on in plenary. I really think that this is the most important room here at General Conference."

Volunteers staff the prayer room all hours that conference is in session to pray with participants and for the leaders and support people working long hours, often far from home.

Bishop Grant Hagiya, Greater Northwest Episcopal Area: “We gather before You in this place to dedicate a space not we and others will use over the next two weeks, but to dedicate ourselves to love You and all of our neighbors who will come here to pray.”

The prayer room offers two labyrinths for meditation, imagery of creation for reflection, and interactive prayer stations.

Ardis Letey, Prayer Room Designer: “There’ll be a fountain, remember your baptism. There’s one that will be doing fire and light. And another one with sand as a medium for prayer.”

Ardis Letey is an artist who helped design the prayer room to convey the closeness to Creation that the Northwest United States is known for. There’s an altar with small stones for sharing.

Ardis Letey: “When you come to that prayer station you can leave your stone and pick up somebody else’s stone from around the world. I think it’s a wonderful metaphor for our interconnectedness with one another and with God’s creation.”

Before the conference began, prayer partners walked the convention center, and prayed throughout the meeting rooms and hallways for the delegates and church leaders who would make decisions to shape the future of The United Methodist Church.

The Rev. Brett Strobel, Christ United Methodist Church: “When you’re praying for someone, you’re taking that person into the inner recesses of a very sacred space and lifting that person up to God. That’s an act of love to do that. And so I think it’s vital that we pray for each other and that we see that our conference is wrapped in prayer, saturated in prayer.”

(Group sings) “Amen.”