Worship served as the highlight of the day for me. We began the day with worship, during which we prayed the Lord’s Prayer—each person praying the same prayer in their own language at the same time. This is the second day in a row that we have prayed in this way and I was thankful for the repetition. The unified prayer in a variety of languages reflects, to me, some of the best parts of General Conference so far. We have come together with our very different perspectives from all over the world to seek God and to seek a faithful way forward for The United Methodist Church. Bishop Weaver challenged us — where ever we are from and whatever our stories are — to focus on our purpose as individual Christians and as the church to make more disciples of Jesus. This powerful message from Bishop Weaver that included a miraculous story of new life for survivors of genocide, was followed by an equaling inspiring message from Betty Swipe Katiyo, a lay leader from Zimbabwe. She called on the laity to claim their important role as active participants in the ministry and life of the church. She said that laity are not just consumers of religion. “Laity is the choir who should be making the noise. Clergy are the conductors…We must work together.” These messages were wrapped up with a message from the young people of the UMC, with contributors from all over the world. They reminded us that young people have an important role in the church now, not just as part of the future church.
Just before the closing worship, with the inspiring message to “Invite!” from Bishop James King, Rev. Adam Hamilton and a number of others spoke about the Call to Action. They pointed out the challenges to growing ministry faced by the UMC in the United States and challenged us not to remain idle, but to take action to strengthen the ministry of the world-wide UMC and in particular the UMC of the United States. Everyone I have spoken with — laity, clergy, young, old, male, female, etc. — agree that we need to make some changes. As we can hear in the discussions among groups at General Conference, posts on Twitter, and comments on Facebook; we do not all agree on what changes need to be made or how to make them. We have a great deal of holy conferencing to do so that we can work together, take some action, and make some progress.
Thank you for the prayers you have offered for the General Conference delegates. Please continue to seek God’s blessing for this important work.
First Reserve Clergy Delegate