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Christ among us: Spirit-filled moments at GC 2016

Throughout the 2016 General Conference, evidence of God at work through the people of The United Methodist Church is everywhere. In worship, delegates offer their thanks and praise to God. In smaller gatherings, people pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit. In reports and conversations in the halls, participants share how The United Methodist Church is the body of Christ in the world.

Some of these Spirit-filled moments occur on the plenary floor. Every morning the day begins with a service of worship, at which one of our bishops shares a powerful message. The music is uplifting, sometimes moving the delegates to dance at 8:30 a.m.

During the sessions, what could be boring reports of data, are presented instead as celebrations of the work of God among us. During the lunch break each day the worship leaders host a service of Holy Communion in the convention center. The gathered stand in a circle that includes the communion table. There they sing and recite the communion liturgy. A bishop and a deacon lead the worship, and move around the circle to serve the sacrament to each person present. It is a wonderful moment of unity, sometimes immediately following a difficult, even divisive debate.

The climate vigil and other gatherings brought participants closer to God. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, United Methodist Communications.

Other moments not directed by the General Conference staff are also filled with the Spirit of God. Annual conference delegations commonly gather around tables in the lobby for prayer and worship. Others moving through the convention center are treated to worship songs echoing through the halls.

Together the church remembered the ministry of Francis Asbury, the first bishop of Methodism. The story of Asbury's love of God and passion to share the gospel with everyone is a heritage of which we are proud, and seek to live into today.

There have also been worshipful vigils for the climate and water, and opportunities for delegates to participate in a day of service with the people of Portland.

The Rev. Mande Muyombo, a delegate from North Katanga, stood to speak. Muyombo gave special recognition to the bishops of the Congo who have served through extraordinarily difficult times.

Congo "is a country that has lost more than six million people because of an unjust war," he began, "and I am here to stand to thank our four bishops who have worked tirelessly during that time for peace, development, and church growth in our communities."

He then shared how the leadership of Bishop Kainda Katembo, Bishop Nkulu Ntambo, Bishop David Yemba, and Bishop John Innis has extended beyond the church and into their communities.

God is at work through the people of The United Methodist Church. Some of it is heard when we gather for General Conference, even more than described above.

Joe Iovino, writer, at United Methodist Communications.

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