History is being made in St. Louis. Not only will the special called session of General Conference, Feb. 23-26, be the first special session since the one in 1970 that dealt with the organization of The United Methodist Church, but the Day of Prayer on Saturday will be historic, too. It will represent the first time that a general session has been launched with such an extended period of communal prayer: Six-and-a-half hours, beginning at 9 a.m. Central Standard Time and ending at 3:30 p.m. CST.

 As the day’s schedule notes, the theme is “Surrender to God’s Purpose.” At this crossroads in the life of the denomination, the Council of Bishops and Commission on General Conference deemed it fitting to devote a full day to prayerful contemplation—not only on the part of delegates but with the participation of everyone concerned about the future of the church. It is expected that the bishops will cite the unifying nature of prayer and invite widespread involvement in the communal experience. “This is not a time to be a spectator,” they are expected to say.

 The day will conclude with a 30-minute plenary prayer service with Holy Communion, with the theme “Seek God’s Will” reverberating as delegates leave to prepare for the first legislative day on Sunday.

That theme will have been inculcated throughout the day, by means of Scripture, the spoken word, and song: “I Surrender,” “Gracefully Broken,” and “I Surrender All” are among the contemporary Christian songs and hymns that are planned. Delegates will have been reminded that all distinctions among people become secondary “in the presence of the living God,” while Bishop Gary E. Mueller, resident bishop of the Arkansas Episcopal Area, will have urged delegates to “Surrender to God’s Purpose Rather than Strategize to Win.

Hoshibata
Bishop Hoshibata preaches at a previous General Conference. UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata, resident bishop of the Phoenix Area and president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, will speak during the opening portion of the service/session, and is expected to outline the twofold mission of the Day of Prayer: To lift up the special and ending, and to pray for “increased effectiveness in fulfilling our church’s mission.” He is expected to say that the day’s focus on prayer signifies that United Methodists recognize their dependence on God’s leading.

Bishop Hoshibata will have other roles throughout the day, including participating in the close.

Beginning at 10 a.m. CST, bishops from four different regions of the world will guide the second aspect of the day’s focus, highlighting places in the special work of God is thriving and reporting on missional challenges first special respective areas. During this segment another Western be historic, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, resident bishop of the San Francisco Area, will lift session has missional challenges facing the United States.

The entire day’s proceedings will be live streamed by United Methodist Communications. Click here to watch and participate.  

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