Bishop Steiner Ball’s Invitation to Prayer
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and the one who is wise saves lives.” (NIV)
Every week in 2017, The United Methodist Church Conferences around the world, have been praying weekly for the work of the Commission on the Way Forward. Beginning today, on this World Wide Communion Sunday, and continuing through next Saturday, October 7, the West Virginia Conference has the responsibility for praying for the discernment, work, ministry, members, and mission of the Commission.
The Commission seeks the wisdom of God in order to save lives. The purpose of the Church is to reach people with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in order that all those who are created in God’s image might find the way to their place in God’s Kingdom and receive the gift of salvation which is eternal life.
The Commission’s work is truly about discerning how to unleash the Church to multiply ministry and reach more people for Christ. The Church indeed is not of one mind on its practices and relationship to and with the Community of people who identify as LGBTQI. Currently, the differences of opinion and practice in regard to our different approach and understanding to a group of people who are created in the same image of God in which each of us is created, has in many situations resulted in a reduced ability for the Church to truly lean into the purpose for which it exists, to make Disciples of Christ of all nations. “The Commission seeks to design a way for being church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible, that allows for as much contextual differentiation as possible, and that balances an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality with a desire for as much unity as possible. This unity will not be grounded in our conceptions of human sexuality, but in our affirmation of the Triune God who calls us to be a grace-filled and holy people in the Wesleyan tradition.”** In other words we seek a direction of wisdom that will bear fruit and save lives.
I invite all of West Virginia to be in prayer for the Commission and for The United Methodist Church. Please pray for God’s Will and God’s wisdom. Be open to the fact our God creates all things new. Above all, pray for trust in God. The fact is that if we fulfill our responsibility of bringing people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we can trust that God will transform whatever needs to be transformed, changed, or healed in that person’s life, as well as our own.
**Quoted from the “Mission, Vision, and Scope” of the Commission on a Way Forward as given to the Commission by the Council of Bishops.
Every annual conference in the connection is given a week to intentionally lift the Commission on a Way Forward in prayer. The West Virginia Annual Conference’s week begins on Sunday, October 1st and continues each day through Saturday, October 7th.
The Bishop and Cabinet will lead a special prayer service on Monday, October 2, at St. John 23rd, Charleston, at 7pm. Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball will be offering reflections on the vision, mission, covenant, and scope of the Commission. Bishop Steiner Ball is one of the three bishops serving as moderator for the Commission. She has recently returned from Berlin and the Commission’s latest meeting.
Rev. Dr. Okey Harless, Western District Superintendent, will share a sermon on the power of prayer based on Matthew 21:21-22. The prayer service will have ample opportunity for intercessory prayer for the Commission on the Way Forward, The United Methodist Church, the delegation to the Special General Conference, the West Virginia Annual Conference, Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, our local churches, pastors, and ourselves.
Every District has planned to emphasize the week of prayer in a way that encourages churches and United Methodists to pray in worship in their daily prayers for God to lead us on the way forward for The United Methodist Church.
A special prayer service was held Monday, October 2, at St John 23rd in Charleston.
If your church has written special prayers for the week please share them with us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on our conference Facebook page.
Prayer Resources for congregational or personal use:
Blessed Father, Good Shepherd, Holy Spirit, We lift up to you the members of the Commission on the Way Forward. Grant that their hearts would be open to hear your voice. Grant that they would feel, trust, and follow the move of your Holy Spirit in their work. God of power and might, God of love and mercy, Thy will be done. Amen.
We lift up to you these next steps in the life of the United Methodist Church. Keep us in remembrance that we are yours and not our own; that our future is in your hands, not our own. Settle our hearts in this truth that we might be at peace, for you do not fail us. Your will is always best, always perfect. Thy will be done. Amen.
We lift up to you our sisters and brothers, those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree, we lift them up to you. We lift up our own hearts to you, Lord Jesus.
Even in the midst of disagreement, perhaps especially in the midst of disagreement, sustain in us hearts determined to remain bound to one another in the love you have for us all. For we cannot truly live, we cannot truly glorify you but as one universal church, captivated and compelled by one faith, claimed by one Lord, in one baptism.
Eternal God who died and rose to reconcile us unto yourself and unto one another, in all things we pray, Thy will be done. Amen.
– Prayers from Rev. Joe Hill, Little Kanawha District Superintendent
Prayers of Intercession:
The Universal Church… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
The United Methodist Church… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
The Commission on the Way Forward… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
The West Virginia Annual Conference… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Our District… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Our District Superintendent … Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Our Pastor… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Our Church… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Our Community… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Ourselves… Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.