Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church will be held May 10-20, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. This is an important time for our church, as delegates from around the world will gather to consider proposed legislation and ministry for the next quadrennium. The General Conference is the only body which may speak for the entire church. During this exciting and often challenging time, elected delegates discern global vision, mission and direction. The prayers of each United Methodist in preparing for General Conference are important. The Council of Bishops has called upon the church to be in a season of prayer in preparation for the General Conference. To encourage ongoing prayer the Council has issued a Call to Prayer.
This 131 days of prayer began on December 31, 2015, in the Oregon-Idaho Conference and will end on May 9, 2016, in the Austria Provisional Conference. Each Annual Conference has been given a day, and the Florida Conference has been asked to devote April 14 to prayer for the General Conference.
Bishop Carter asked me to facilitate the Call to Prayer for our Annual Conference. So, I am asking that you, as a pastor/leader in the Florida Conference lead your congregation(s) in a time of prayer on April 14 so that we reflect the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17:22, 23: "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
You will find a link at the end of this letter that takes you to a format for prayer. Please feel free to modify the suggestions in arranging for your congregation to be in prayer on April 14. You might choose a single service of prayer or a 24-hour prayer vigil.There are many suggestions and ideas for calling your congregation together for prayer, but feel free to adapt these resources for your congregation. It is most important that on April 14 we are Together In Prayer.
If you have questions please feel free to email me. And, thank you for your ministry and commitment to join your sisters and brothers in prayer on April 14 and our global church family before and during General Conference. I would encourage you to share stories of your congregation Together in Prayer, as we want to celebrate our unity as United Methodist Christians.
Peace and Grace,
Rev. David McEntire
First United Methodist Church, Lakeland, Florida
for the prayer vigil resources.