(Image courtesy of vaumc.org)
Today marks the beginning of the Virginia Annual Conference gathering of 2014. Laity and clergy from all over the Conference and state of Virginia will gather to do the work of the Church, order the life of our Conference, and address what the future may hold for us. It should be a time of celebration and joy, but there is much apprehension and concern. We are entering into a time of decision about the Church and its core beliefs, how we live them out, and what it may look like years into the future. We are confronted with the possibility of a break in the Church at the next General Conference gathering in 2016, but the indicators of this may be revealed over the course of this weekend, and many of us mourn that possibility, much less its reality. So we humbly and with great sincerity ask for your prayers. We would love your presence, but realize that it may not be possible, so let us be connected through God in prayer:
Lord of all that is and what has yet to emerge,
Fill your people with a longing for unity.
Help us see the possibility of a future where we stay united,
Committed to you and the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
Enable us to see the glory in being together as the Body of Christ;
A Church for moving beyond ourselves and into your grace.
Let your Spirit enter into our midst once more,
Calling forth growth and action where debate and lethargy threaten to overshadow.
Pour out your love upon all those who gather for holy conferencing.
Let us feel that tangible connection to you,
And then enact it with one another.
May we be enriched, enlivened, and edified by our faith in you.
May this time be as sacred as any Sunday,
And as amazing as that first time the Holy Spirit touched your people on Pentecost.
For your honor and glory, always and everywhere,