Praying for GC2020

The Rev. Tom Albin of The Upper Room addresses the 2020 Pre-General Conference Briefing in Nashville. Albin is heading up GC2020 prayer effort at UMCprays.org and is wearing a “prayer scarf” that everyone who comes to Minneapolis will receive. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

By Tom Albin –

Gracious God fill me with your wisdom, love, and compassion – that I may pray in your name, intercede in your nature, and align with your will. Incline the hearts of every United Methodist to your heart – that we may all love alike, even though we do not think alike.

As we intercede for each elected delegate and alternate, grant us courage and clarity to pray with the Holy Spirit for each one – regardless of the position he or she holds on the issues that divide us. Help every delegate and every alternate know and feel our prayers supporting them on their journey of discernment.

Lord Jesus Christ, bless the Council of Bishops, bless the staff serving the General Conference, bless the volunteers, guests, and visitors. Give us all the mind of Christ, that we may know how to pray. Give us eyes open to see each person and her or his needs – that our prayers might be a part of your answer to those needs.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy your consolations. May your kingdom come in us and your will be done in us – on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Has God given you a burden to pray for the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 5-15? Do you feel a need, or desire, or urgency to pray with and for the elected delegates, alternates, leaders, participants, and guests?

I believe God is calling you and me and many in our global United Methodist family to pray earnestly and persistently for our church. The prayer above is the prayer I feel called to pray. You have permission to use it, edit it, or make it your own.

Below you will find information about the resources created to help our beloved church pray our way into a season of blessing and sending. The time of winners and losers is over. This is a season for separation and blessing. Like the New Testament Church during the second missionary journey, we have irreconcilable differences, just as Paul and Barnabas had irreconcilable differences (see Acts 15:36-41). Just as they went on different journeys, it is time for the United Methodist Church to pursue different missionary paths to proclaim Christ in ways that each group believes to be faithful.

At the request of The United Methodist Council of Bishops Worship Committee, The Upper Room and United Methodist Communications have collaborated to create a way for the entire denomination to pray together for 40 days before the General Conference begins – and through the gathering.

There is no question that this will be a historic event in the life of the global Methodist movement. For all of us who are not elected delegates, alternates, leaders or staff, our part is to pray: as an individual, as a family, as a small group, a local church, district, annual conference, or Central Conference. This is your personal invitation to engage your prayer with the prayers of 12 million United Methodists around the world. We have one goal in mind, to create an atmosphere of prayer for all those elected to make decisions on our behalf and for the future direction for our Wesleyan mission in the years ahead.

Prayer Action #1. From UMCprays.org, download the free 40-Days of Prayer and make it available to your family, local church, district, and annual conference. The PDF text is currently available in the four official written languages of the General Conference: English, French, Portuguese, and Kiswahili. The 40 Days of Prayer follows the pattern of the Revised Common Lectionary. Each day there is a passage of scripture to read, followed by a personal reflection written by one person selected from a diverse group of United Methodist delegates, members, and friends from around the world; followed by a prayer for the day. The Prayer Guide also includes information about how it may be used in a family or small group setting.

Prayer Action #2. On Sunday, March 22, play the video from UMCprays.org for your congregation which will introduce the content and process for the rest of that week. Each week, there will be a brief video featuring one active bishop from a different region of the United States and the world. Each video will provide instruction and encouragement to pray with and for the elected leaders who will gather in Minneapolis. Bishop Bob Hoshibata, Chairperson for the Council of Bishops Worship Committee, will call the UM Church to pray and prepare for the first day of the 40 Days of Prayer on March 26, when we will all pray with and for the 862 delegates, the hundreds of alternates, the Council of Bishops, and all those involved in the 2020 General Conference.

On each successive Sunday prior to General Conference, a different bishop will lead prayer for the delegates of a specific area within United Methodism: Sunday, March 29, the Northeast Jurisdiction; Sunday, April 5 (Holy Week), the Central Conferences; Sunday, April 12 (Easter Sunday), the Southeast Jurisdiction; Sunday, April 19, the North Central Jurisdiction; on Sunday, April 26, the South Central Jurisdiction; and on Sunday, May 3, the Western Jurisdiction.

Prayer Action #3. Listen to a scriptural Podcast created by UMCOM to aid United Methodists to reflect each day of the General Conference on the biblical text for the plenary worship service of the day.

Prayer Action #4. UMCprays.org is the website where all the free videos, podcasts, and language versions of the 40 Days of Prayer are available. This prayer website will have additional prayer resources and online coaching to help you engage others in prayer.

Prayer Action #5. Pray for the Dakotas-Minnesota GC2020 Host Committee chaired by the Rev. Jim Haun and Becky Boland; along with the Prayer Team led by the Rev. Pam Serdar who is designing and staffing a General Conference Prayer Room.

Prayer Action #6. Intercessory Prayer Volunteers will be available at the General Conference. Anyone interested in serving in this role should contact me at TAlbin@upperroom.org. Intercessory prayer volunteers pray quietly in each of the legislative sessions, pray with delegates before and after legislative sessions, and pray during the plenary sessions of the General Conference.

Prayer Action #7. Volunteer Spiritual Directors will be available at the General Conference. The Upper Room is responsible to recruit, train, and supervise these individuals to help those who desire an opportunity to receive spiritual support as each one seeks God’s will and direction during the General Conference. Those interested in serving in this role should contact me at the above email address for more information.

Tom Albin is the dean of the chapel at the Upper Room and the Director of Spiritual Formation and Congregational Life.

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