The General Conference takes place every four years and involves UMC clergy and laity from all over the world. In our country, it occurs in the same years we hold presidential elections, which sometimes overshadows information about the occurrences of General Conference. But the decisions made at The UMC General Conference can have the same kind of influences as our national elections do, only for our denomination. The UMC budget, changes or additions to the Book of Discipline (laws), and the stance on various social issues worldwide are all matters taken up by the General Conference.
Late in 2015, the Council of Bishops put forth a vision for bathing the 2016 General Conference in prayer. Specifically, they asked for 131 days of prayer beginning January 1, 2016 and continuing until the start of GC2016, which will be held May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. The number 131 is significant, because it represents the number of area conferences there are across the world. A theme of “Therefore Go”, based on Matthew 28:19-20, has been set for the focus for the event.
Our own Western North Carolina Conference (WNCC) is supporting the General Conference Prayer Initiative in several ways. Online at the WNCC website you may view a video about this ministry, and read information about the emphasis given for the first Sunday of each month, February-May, and each of the districts within the WNCC has been assigned a day when the district is responsible for providing non-stop prayer. For the Uwharrie District, which includes the Smyrna-Wingate Charge, that day was Sunday, April 3rd.
All this officious and perhaps boring information I’ve just given you is to provide the basis for my request.
I believe, as I think many of you do, that prayer makes a difference. I think it especially makes a difference when we do it on purpose. That means not offering some quick, general, fleeting word to God, as I am sometimes guilty of doing, about what suits my needs and desires.
But instead I’m talking about intentional prayers that seek the Lord’s guidance, blessing, and His will for specific people, events, and situations. Jesus has told us, in scripture, to ask for what we want. God has promised to hear us and He always keeps His promises. I believe that when our want is for His will, we will never be denied.
General Conference is an event that can be fraught (not unlike our national politics) with possibilities for the rise of selfish ego, divisiveness, and anger. But if covered in prayer, it can be an occasion for civility, cooperation and harmony.
~ Susan Hendrix