Greetings in Christ Jesus:
Earlier this year I spoke to you about 1968 being a watershed year in many ways. That is probably true of every year, depending on your social location and/or your reading of history. That said, 1968 stands out in my mind as BIG. The assassinations, presidential politics, where we were in Viet Nam and on and on. We who lived through it could regale one another with our recollections.
One of my firm recollections of 1968 is the creation of The United Methodist Church, formally consummated and ritualized on April 23, 1968, in Dallas, TX. It was a number of years in the making and followed a number of years of conversation, relationship building and negotiation. Two churches came together to create a new church, embracing for a new era relationships first kindled in the 18th century. In a real sense, the new church was bright-eyed and full of hopeful possibilities.
So here we are at the 50th anniversary of our church, and I see and sense hopeful possibilities. Yes, I know what’s going on in the Church, in our church and in the world, and I still see hopeful possibilities - if only we would follow the Risen Christ into the world where he is already at work in the power of the Holy Spirit. As a sign of our commitment to join the resurrected Jesus in the world and mark the 50th birthday of the UMC, I am inviting us all to a one-day prayer meeting.
Here’s the deal. On Monday, April 23 (our birthday as the UMC), I am asking you to do two things:
1. For every West Ohio United Methodist to spend some focused time in prayer –
- Praising God for the Church
- Thanking God for The United Methodist Church
- Confessing to God our “failure to be an obedient church”
- Seeking God’s missional will for The United Methodist Church (local, regional, national, global)
2. For every United Methodist church building in West Ohio to be open for at least one hour on the 23rd with a designated place for people to pray. If your church facility can be open for this purpose for more than one hour, please do so.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as we engage this opportunity for focused prayer on April 23rd:
- Pray as you are able. You don’t have to be in a church building or do it at a specific time of the day;
- There is power in private prayer and praying with others, so feel free to do both;
- Invite people in your community who are not members to stop in to pray;
- Some resources and suggestions for prayer on this day will be made available via the conference website.
Please know that even now my prayers join yours that the mission of the Church would be lived through us in the power of the Risen Christ. I am,
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
+Bishop Gregory V. Palmer