General Conference 2016

Encircled in Prayer

General Conference attendees participate in an act of dedication and prayer to bless the space in which the conference will take place.

Encircled in Prayer

Volunteers, including Harriett Olson on far right, pray over the altar area for General Conference in Portland, Or.

The morning before the start of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, delegates, visitors, volunteers and agency staff gathered to dedicate the General Conference prayer room and bless the places the Holy Spirit will dwell while United Methodists from around the world gather at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, from May 10-20.

"Our purpose is to undergird the whole conference with prayer," said Denise McGuiness, co-chair of the General Conference Host Committee Prayer Team. "We want to offer a sacred space for people to come when they need a place to pray, to think, to talk with someone."

The prayer room offers prayer stations as well as two prayer labyrinths in a quiet space for contemplation and meditation. In addition to the prayer room, located in Oregon Ballroom 204, the United Methodist Women Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner offers an additional prayer station by meeting rooms A near the exhibit hall.

Prayer ministries for General Conference have been ongoing in a "60 Days of Prayer" vigil hosted by the Upper Room beginning March 31 and continuing through and after General Conference. "Praying for God's will, to be done God's way, and in God's time" is the goal of the 60 days of prayer. The General Conference prayer ministry includes protestant prayer beads made for each delegate, and United Methodist Women members from across the country quilted prayer labyrinth squares given out with special edition United Methodist Women Prayer Calendars.

"We are glad to be praying people connected to praying people," said United Methodist Women General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson. "God is making a difference in me. God is making a difference between us. And with us, God is making a difference in the world. We are so grateful to be united in prayer in this way.

"The work of prayer is something United Methodist Women and our predecessors have been about for almost 150 years," she said.

The dedication's scripture passage was Genesis 28:16-19: "Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place — and I did not know it!' And he was afraid, and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.'"

After the prayer room dedication those in attendance walked through the convention center to pray over the exhibit hall, legislative committee rooms, offices and even the building entrances — blessing the places where comfort, strength and grace will be needed.

"We were even praying in the alcoves," said Deaconess Judy Poole. "We prayed for all of the delegates and all of the people working in the convention center, into individual offices and for the behind-the-scene folks who are the foundation of General Conference."

"So we gather here before you, in this place, not to dedicate a space we and others will use over the next two weeks," said Grant Hagiya, bishop of the Greater Northwest Area, "but to dedicate ourselves to love you and to love all of our neighbors who will come here to pray."

Tara Barnes is editor of response magazine, the official magazine of United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 5/10/2016 11:00:00 PM
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