Delegate Thoughts

The February 23 Day of Prayer:

“In common with others in the East Ohio delegation I came into today keyed up. After all, we have been having conversations, listening, meeting, and reading for two years! It is finally here … but not yet. At first, the prayer focus just seemed like a lot of words, and the setting did not feel like worship. But little by little I felt drawn into the narrative of ministry and mission challenges in other regions of the world.

The music was powerful, and even the slightly clunky worship made me remember how this was not about performance, but people. The highlight for me was passing the peace with confession and asking forgiveness. What began as an exercise with people we knew expanded to greetings and blessings with strangers, including asking to be forgiven. It went beyond liturgy to touch, for a moment, a spiritual reality.

I would like to say that I am no longer keyed up. This would be untrue. But the prayers today were effective in making a huge sports venue a bit closer to hallowed ground. Perhaps we might know, in part, holy conferencing.”

Karen Oehl, clergy delegate

“I am grateful for the blessing and opportunity to begin the special, called General Conference with a day given to prayer. I appreciate the concerted prayer of those who are from East Ohio as well as our sisters and brothers from every part of our United Methodist Church family.”

Dr. Gary George, clergy delegate

“I was blessed by today’s day of prayer. I appreciated the specifics on how to be in prayer for those in the different places around the world. I was encouraged by the pictures of worship in Africa and the Philippines. I was pleasantly surprised that the many of the stations for prayer simple included a page of Scripture. What better way to pray than to pray God’s Holy Word!”

Holly Grant, lay delegate

The Special Session of General Conference:

“My initial thoughts as we sit here in St. Louis centers on the words ‘i surrender all’ …. I am embraced by the prayers of LUMC, and so many others who sent reminders of ‘praying for you’ and with that assurance, I felt the prayers calling me to ‘let go of anxiety’ and to know that God will have us in God’s divine hand. I have deep feelings that can cloud my discerning spirit but that also keeps me connected to the core of my faith.

After lunch, as we entered into prayer for our LGBTQ delegates sitting in the midst of our session, my soul was awakened to join their circle of prayer with other delegates. I felt tears rolling down my face as I sang in solidarity that all might be fully welcomed. Seeing the beauty in the faces of my sisters and brothers in Christ reminded me that they are not ‘issues’ to be solved but simply children of God wanting to fully accepted. Going back to our delegation table, I knew God has spoken to my heart reminding me of God’s love is for all.

As the coming days unfold, I yield my heart and spirit to God’s amazing grace as I lift up my prayer.

‘Loving God, as we quiet our spirits and listen to your “breath of love” – may we truly feel – see – witness and become the instrument and agent of your transforming love. Free us, O God, from the ego-driven push we sometimes feel and see that can drive us into a “us/them” mindset. Free us from the shackles of fear and discrimination so that your LOVE and your grace may be reflected within our own lives.  Breathe upon us and calm the troubled waters so that your calming presence takes hold in us all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.’”

Dan Bryant, clergy delegate