Heading West


By Roger Ross

It all starts on Tuesday. After four years of praying, planning, and petitioning, the world-wide body of Christ called United Methodists will convene its General Conference in Portland, Oregon. For 11 days, 864 delegates from 45 countries will make hundreds of decisions that will affect all 12.8 million members. The conference will also affect the lives of millions more touched by the mission work of United Methodism in over 125 countries.

As many of you know, I was elected last June to serve as an alternate delegate for the clergy half of our Illinois Great Rivers delegation. I will leave early on Monday, May 9 and return late on Friday, May 20. In between, there will be fantastic worship experiences, powerful testimonies to God’s work around the world, and heart-wrenching debates and decisions about the most difficult issues of our day.

Since over 40 percent of the delegates are from outside of the United States, General Conference is far from merely an American affair. This international body will face many painful issues that affect countries and cultures very different from ours. These complex problems have no easy answers. Impassioned debates and lobbying groups will try to persuade delegates in one direction or another.

Due to the far-reaching impact of this General Conference, I’m inviting everyone to pray this simple prayer each day at 10 AM:

Everlasting God, as you did at Pentecost, pour out your Holy Spirit on our General Conference in Portland.

Guide every decision so your will can be done on earth as it is in heaven.

For the sake of Jesus Christ and his church. Amen.

You can pray this prayer wherever you are beginning Tuesday, May 10 and continue praying each day at 10 AM through Friday, May 20. We believe more prayer releases more power. When God’s people pray in unity, it delights the heart of God and creates space for God’s love to prevail and God’s will to be done. In very real ways, the future of our church rests on the prayers of its people.

With you in prayer,


P.S. If you would like to follow the action in Portland, you can go to http://gc2016.umc.org (or www.umc.org/gc2016). You can also follow General Conference on Facebook and Twitter using #UMCGC.

(Rev. Dr. Roger Ross is the senior pastor of Springfield First UMC, Sangamon River District. He blogs at: https://medium.com/@RogerScottRoss