The General Conference 2019 begins with so sweet moments of prayer

by Kathy L. Gilbert2
3 February 2019 | St. LOUIS, United States (UMNS)

Other Manual Translations: English

The United Methodist bishops hold hands in prayer during a day of prayer for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2019 to St. Louis. Photo by Mike Debose, UMNS.
The United Methodist bishops hold hands in prayer during a day of prayer for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2019 to St. Louis. Photo by Mike Debose, UMNS.

The United Methodist from around the world spent six hours praying for the church before starting the hard work of the General Conference of 2019, which is to revise the church's policy on homosexuality.

The prayers led by United Methodist Bishops have sought God's inspiration and courage.

By mid-day, there was no reference to the LGBTQ people and this concern was expressed by those who support the evolution of the church's policies on homosexuality. The second part of the day of prayer began with a moving call to pray for "our LGBTQ Brothers and sisters", launched by Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of North Alabama.

Dorothy Benz, lay delegate of the New York Conference, said that the LGBTQ people had told the bishops that there had not been "enough time to pray for and with us." "And the presence of the people LGBTQ in the Tribune as delegates and in the stands holding placards and flags was not recognized," she said. I h
ope the bishops recognized the harm done to people LGBTQI by their silence this morning. I wish the heterosexual bishops cisgenres off the podium to pray with us, said Benz.

But I was touched by those who came, who stood by our side and kissed us. We will continue to remind the Church that we are here. We are also worthy to be mentioned as being faithful, and as essential to the future of the church as any Methodist, "added Benz. "Cisgenre" means a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds to his or her sex at birth. 

The Reverend Will Green (center) leads the song "Jesus Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom" at the "Queer prayer Station" during the morning of prayer on February 23 at the special session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2019 to Saint - Louis . Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.
The Reverend Will Green (center) leads the song "Jesus Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom" at the "Queer prayer Station" during the morning of prayer on February 23 at the special session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2019 to Saint – Louis . Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

At the takeover, Wallace-Padgett said: We see you. We form a part of the body of Christ and when one suffers, all suffer. We must take care of each other, reach out to the hand of sacred love to each other, knowing that we are children of God. With the heart of Jesus, we enter the time of prayer especially for the LGBTQ brothers and sisters who are here and everywhere in the world. »

When the choir intoned "I Need you to survive," circles were formed around the LGBTQ delegates and a rainbow flag was brandished. Voices under the Dome of the America's Center uttered the following words: "I will not hurt you with the words of my mouth, you are important to me. I prayed for you, you prayed for me, I need you to survive. »

The sacrament ended the day.

During the morning, bishops from Europe and Eurasia, Africa, the United States and the Philippines led delegates in a time of experimental prayer by sharing the mission, Ministry and Challenges of the United Methodist Church.

The bishops Eduard Khegay of the Moscow region and Harald Rückert of the German region led the session by singing the Swedish anthem, "How Great Thou Art" first in English and then in Swedish.

Bishop Muyombo of North Katanga said: In Africa, we pray very loudly. We pray loudly. We pray for the church. It is a wonderful church that transforms the poor. »

(left to right) Julia Stukalova and Yulia Starodubets (provisional conference of eastern Russia and Central Asia) and Marina Yugay (provisional conference of the North-west of Russia) sing during the morning of prayer of 23 February at the special session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2019 to St. Louis. Photo by Kathleen Barry
(left to right) Julia Stukalova and Yulia Starodubets (provisional conference of eastern Russia and Central Asia) and Marina Yugay (provisional conference of the North-west of Russia) sing during the morning of prayer of 23 February at the special session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2019 to St. Louis. Photo by Kathleen Barry.

The retired Bishop Peter Weaver prayed for guidance. L
ord, we are here again. The United Methodist is back in conference, a little earlier than usual. We need your advice a little more than usual. »

Beata Ferris, Dakota Conference delegate, felt that the day of prayer "printed the right tone" and found herself, with her neighbours in the room, literally moved by some of the international

elements. People applauded, danced and sang to the Sound of African music and tried to sing in Russian and Swedish, "she said. "I have a feeling that we have not done a very good job, but we have made great efforts.

Reverend Ben Lalka, a local pastor certified in service at the Victor United Methodist Church in Victor, New York, presented himself as "undecided" as to how the first day went

. It is good to create a time of prayer, a time of discernment of God's will for our church, "he said. "But this is my first General Conference and I'm afraid we don't have enough time (for legislative work). However, I try to trust the Holy Spirit, to trust our leaders.

Bishop James Swanson Sr. Of the Mississippi conference said at the lunch break that a first day of the General Conference devoted to prayer was "something we should have done for a long time."

Swanson said that while many delegates have a decision on legislation, others do not. And the blessing of prayer exceeds discernment, he added

. That could shape our attitude. That is what worries me the most: the attitude and the way we treat each other. S

wanson said that the bishops with whom he was seated and with whom he had prayed were visibly moved by the subjects of prayers punctuated by Eurasian and African m

usic. It really highlighted our diversity. »

To remain united despite all the storms was a recurring theme in the prayers pronounced in the many languages of the denomination.

Bishop Kenneth Carter, President of the Council of Bishops, and Wallace-Padgett said a prayer for the delegates.

Facing each other, holding hands, they repeated: "If I have done something intentionally or not to harm you, forgive me, please." May the peace of Christ be with you. »

Delegates from the Philippines and Southeast Asia sing on a day of prayer at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2019 to St. Louis. Photo by Mike Debose, UMNS.
Delegates from the Philippines and Southeast Asia sing on a day of prayer at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2019 to St. Louis. Photo by Mike Debose, UMNS.

Gilbert is a media reporter for United Methodist News Service. Sam Hodges and Joey Butler contributed to this article. Contact them at newsdesk@umnews.org. For more information on the United Méthdodiste Church, subscribe free of charge to daily or weekly summaries.

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