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Members from Florida church take prayer ministry to General Conference

Members from Florida church take prayer ministry to General Conference

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Members from Florida church take prayer ministry to General Conference

April 24, 2008     News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0838}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

FORT WORTH, Texas — A small group of United Methodists from Covenant United Methodist Church in Port Orange, Fla., gathered in the lobby of the Fort Worth Convention Center just before the start of the 2008 General Conference.

Bill Walker, Florida Conference lay leader and head of the Florida Conference’s delegation to the 2008 General Conference (left), speaks with Paul Pollock before the quadrennial assembly’s opening worship service. Pollock and members of his church, Covenant United Methodist Church in Port Orange, attended the conference for the sole purpose of praying for and showing their support of the delegates and the work of the assembly. Photo by Erik Alsgaard. Photo #08-0820.

Their purpose was singular: to be in prayer for the Florida Conference delegation and the entire General Conference, which started April 23.

“We’ve got seven or eight people from our church, just to be in prayer,” said the Rev. Paul Pollock, pastor of the church. “We’ve decided that the best and most positive thing we can do to support the denomination is to pray for Jesus to be Lord of this entire denomination.”

The group, both lay and clergy, began the process more than nine months ago, the pastor said, asking for people in the church who may be called to this ministry of prayer to participate.

Pollock said this is the second time members of his congregation have attended General Conference, the top legislative body in The United Methodist Church.

“We went to the 2004 (General Conference) in Pittsburgh and started to realize that this is the most effective thing we can do,” Pollock said.

Bill Walker, Florida Conference lay leader and head of the 26-member delegation from Florida to General Conference, invited Pollock and his team to close a brief stand-up meeting with prayer just before the opening worship of General Conference.

It wasn’t the first time Pollock has prayed for the delegation. It won’t be the last.

“On March 15, we started a 40 days of prayer and fasting for General Conference,” Pollock said. “We put all the names of the Florida delegation into bowls on the altar and people came up and took names. We have been contacting them individually just to say that we’re praying for you.”

Pollock said the group will be behind the scenes, active in prayer the whole time.

The group is attending the assembly at their own expense, Pollock said. “We all have about $1,000 invested a piece just to come. We’re sharing expenses and doing the best we can. It is just the ministry that God has called us to.”

Pollock said the Rev. Terry Teykl, who works with the prayer ministries of the World Methodist Council, was the inspiration for the group’s General Conference prayer ministry. Pollock said Teykl impressed on him that the best thing to do was to be active in prayer.

“Terry describes it this way,” Pollock said. “The people who love prayer need to become a mosquito on the rump of the elephant of The United Methodist Church. We may not be able to steer the elephant, but we’ll drive them crazy with righteousness, holiness, the word of God, and being passionate about the Holy Spirit.”

Members of Covenant United Methodist Church in Port Orange gather before the opening worship service of the 2008 General Conference to pray for the Florida Conference delegate to the quadrennial assembly. The group began praying and fasting for all conference delegates and the work of the conference weeks before it began. They attended General Conference as “prayer delegates” to continue that ministry. Photo by Erik Alsgaard. Photo #08-0821.

Carol Faircloth, prayer team coordinator for Covenant United Methodist Church, said she was in Fort Worth to pray for God’s will to be done.

“I went to Pittsburgh in 2004,” she said. “It wasn’t hard to get people to come to Fort Worth.”

Rebeccah Hyvonen, assistant pastor at the church, said she came to this year’s conference because of the positive experience she had in Pittsburgh.

“I’m here because I’m passionate about praying for our beloved United Methodist church,” she said. “I had the privilege of being in Pittsburgh four years ago, and that was such a positive experience that we felt we wanted to be here in 2008 and bring a few more people along.”

For Hyvonen, the ministry of being a prayer delegate yields results.

“We just heard a lot of positive feedback from 2004 that there seemed to be more unity and just a lot of positive things along those lines,” she said.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.