ST. LOUIS (Feb. 23, 2019) -- Several congregations in Holston Conference are joining the rest of the denomination in organized prayer over the weekend.
The special session of General Conference begins Saturday, Feb. 23 in the St. Louis America’s Center Convention Complex. The Praying Our Way Forward team of the Council of Bishops has planned a “Day of Prayer” which takes place 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST.
The two-fold purpose of the day is to pray for the special session, as well as for increased effectiveness in fulfilling the Church’s mission.
In Holston Conference, Broad Street United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee, planned a prayer service on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 8 a.m. Central United Methodist in Lenoir City, Tennessee, organized a prayer service on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
In Riner, Virginia, Auburn United Methodist Church will devote its Sunday services at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to prayer instead of traditional worship.
“Our hope is to frame this as when things are tough and we don't understand it, we stop the normal and turn to prayer,” said the Rev. Knox Wimberly. “So, no traditional sermon. Instead, we will have four different times of scripture and prayer during the service interspersed with music. The last prayer will be a prayer for unity and then we will celebrate the sacrament [Holy Communion].”
In Bristol, Virginia, First United Methodist Church will also focus both of their Sunday-morning services on prayer, said the Rev. Brandon Berg.
“I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had with folks around their concerns leading up to General Conference, whether it’s because they’re worried about what might be determined about them and their loved ones as LGBTQ persons and allies, or whether it’s about what might happen to any number of our connectional ministries,” Berg said.
“At this point, we’ve said what can be said and written what can be written, and what’s for us to pray and worship and know that life and the church will go on. We want to be the church that continues to offer hope and welcome,” he said.
In Jasper, Tennessee, McKendree United Methodist Church planned a Sunday service at 6 p.m. during vespers.
“Several people felt like we needed a specific time to pray for the General Conference,” said the Rev. Joey Manis. “We are praying for God to lead in his direction of the church.”
At Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church in Knoxville, church members signed up to pray in their homes for time segments around the clock for the duration of General Conference, Feb. 23-26.
Some churches, including Burks UMC in Chattanooga, shared prayers for General Conference during their Wednesday evening gatherings on Feb. 20. First-Centenary in Chattanooga offered its chapel for prayer from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. On Sunday, Feb. 24, Sunday school classes at First-Centenary will lift up prayers for General Conference from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.