Friday morning, the NCC General Conference delegation offered their report in the form of prayers. The Rev. Gray Southern, opened the presentation, saying, “Your sisters and brothers who were honored to go as delegates…have come back to ask you to pray with us as we offer prayers of thanksgiving for what God did through that conference, prayers of confession for what we did and did not do, and prayers of hope for what God has done and is doing through us, The United Methodist Church.”
Layperson LaNella Smith shared, “I love to sing, and at General Conference we sang such spirit-filled songs with wonderful engaging words. I have imagined…what might our denomination be if we lived out the words that we sang?”
The Rev. Bob Bergland prayed, “O God, as we bow before you, we confess our bent to fear…Forgive us for giving into our fears rather than trusting you. We lift our gratitude to you for the outpouring of joy and power as the holy spirit moved upon the General Conference – opening our ears and our voices, our hearts and our minds to what You are doing and will continue to do within the UMC. We lift our thanks to you for your unfailing protection in those moments when it seemed the very gates of hell had been thrown open…and we forgot how to love because we were afraid. Yet, You are the God who speaks to us, ‘Be not afraid, for I am with you.’ O God, draw us together by the power of this promise.”
The Rev. Laura Ledford shared “As I reflect on General Conference, I confess my own impatience, and I give thanks that we can trust in the slow work of God. And through that slow work, God will use messy, broken, and beautiful people to bring the kingdom more fully on earth and that is good news.”
Layperson Duncan McMillan offered a prayer giving thanks that the denomination is planting over 400 new faith communities across the connection. He celebrated that the church has raised over $60 million for Imagine No Malaria, the denomination’s Four Areas of Focus, and “the body of believers first to respond in times of crisis and one of the last to leave.” He prayed, “I give thanks for a United Methodist Church that recognizes its differences, its global nature, but ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in kingdom-building. I give thanks for a church that invites all to the table, whether or not they agree with each other. A denomination that is rooted in tradition, scripture, reason, and experience.”
Conference Lay Leader Gary Locklear prayed, “We ask you, Lord, to perfect what we have continued. Guide those to be asked to further our dialogue across long-standing divisions and fears. Let us face the future unafraid, empower to be your Church, and looking for your life alive in us, united in You. Amen.”
Southern noted that McMillan was by the General Conference body elected chair Standing Commission of General Conference – the team that will plan General Conference 2020 and 2024.
Annual Conference members were invited to contact any of the delegates if they are interested in helping arrange an event in a local church or district to summarize the General Conference proceedings and experience.