General Conference 2019 opened with a day of dedicated prayer and devotion as we celebrated our common life together in Christ and our universal need for prayer and thanksgiving.
“God’s command to ‘pray without ceasing’ is founded on the necessity we have of his grace to preserve the life of God int he soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it than the body can without air.” Prayer is the living core of the methodist movement. It is a primary means of grace, it is an expression of our life in God and God’s mission living in us in the world. The difficult work before the General Conference made it even more important for this work to begin in blessing, prayer, thanksgiving, and supplication. Thousands of people around the world gathered by livestream with the hundreds of delegates, bishops, volunteers, and observers in St. Louis, Missouri to lift voices and spirits in song, praise, and prayer for the church that has transformed, is transforming, and will continue transforming millions of lives each day. Led by bishops Al Gwinn, Robert T. Hoshibata, and Debra Wallace-Padgett, the four regions of the our UMC presented prayer requests and led us in prayers with and for one another.
Bishops Eduard Khegay and Harald Rückert led us in prayers for Europe and Eurasia reminding us that many of these churches are doing crucial work among young people, migrants and refugees, and within nations that are experiencing significant conflict. They lifted thanks for the souls saved, lives touched, and the communities cared for by the churches across the area.
Bishops Mande Muyombo and John Yambasu led us in prayers for the conferences across Africa. Prayers were lifted in Swahili, Kiluba, and Shona for the powerful work God is doing through the church to transform communities across Africa. They prayed with and for this General Conference and for the witness and mission of The United Methodist Church to continue the work of God throughout the world.
Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Leonard Fairly offered prayers for and with the United States of America. They called for prayer that God continue to work through the church to alleviate poverty, poor education, gun violence, end hate crimes racism and discrimination, and care for the migrants in our midst. They gave thanks for the work of Christ across this country.
Bishops Ciriaco Francisco, Rudy Juan, and Pedro Torio and members of the Churches of the Philippines sang and danced in prayer for the churches working across this diverse region. They lifted prayers for healing, peace, and mission in the midst of disaster, and gave thanks for the movement of the Holy Spirit throughout their churches.