By Bobbi Blackard
SPRINGFIELD -- Many years ago, I was a page at Annual Conference and noticed a scene that became etched into my memory. As I was going about my job, I overheard a young pastor talking with two more senior pastors about a problem he was having at his church. The young man seemed very upset about this problem and asked the other two pastors what he should be doing to make corrections.
One of the two senior pastors said that nothing could be accomplished until they did something very easy and very important in the life of the church. When I looked over at the three men, I was surprised to see that the young man had his head down and the two senior pastors had put their hands on him and were praying. After that prayer, they went over to some comfortable seats and began to talk through the young man’s problem.
Over the past few months, I have been hearing and reading about problems that our younger and newer clergy are facing. Some of the problems are not new and have been faced by generations of clergy. But, there are a lot of problems facing today’s active clergy that are very new and quite different.
So, last month, I led a discussion about these types of problems with the Mattoon-Charleston PASBF retired clergy lunch group. They decided that they would like to help the active clergy by praying for them. Prayer is one activity retired clergy and spouses can do and do well.
This discussion group went on to say that, perhaps, all of the retired clergy and spouses in the IGRC could participate in this time of prayer so that every active clergy would know that they are being lifted up. We have chosen to use the Twelve Days of Christmas as our baseline for our time of commitment to pray. No one needs to sign up, but we would like to have people talk among themselves to make sure we are covering each of those days.
Here is a schedule for our conference and districts to follow. We invite all of the IGRC retired clergy to pray for the active clergy each of the 12 days. As far as is possible, please pray for the active clergy by name.
Dec. 25 Conference-wide prayer
Dec. 26 Cache River District
Dec. 27 Embarras River District
Dec. 28 Illinois River District
Dec. 29 Iroquois River District
Dec. 30 Kaskaskia River District
Dec. 31 LaMoine River District
Jan. 1 Mississippi River District
Jan. 2 Sangamon River District
Jan. 3 Spoon River District
Jan. 4 Vermilion River District
Jan. 5 Conference-wide prayer
Those of us at PASBF would like every active clergy in our annual conference and other conferences know that they are being raised up in prayer for the whole period of the celebration of the twelve days and feel as if they each are receiving that hand of prayer on their shoulder during this time.