Last weekend I attended the Aldersgate Covenant meeting at the Church of the Resurrection. At this gathering, I think I finally learned what holy conferencing should be. We immersed ourselves in prayer, worship, and conversation. We prayed for unity, repented of partisanship, and confessed before God that we ourselves–and not just our neighbors–are sinners. It was holy conferencing because, when we ask in prayer with humble hearts for God to show up, God shows up. It is the presence and activity of God that makes conferencing holy–and nothing else.
This gathering really threw into sharp relief how crass our political machinations have become. We adopt the poisonous assumptions and methods of secular politics, inject them into the veins of the church, and somehow expect that the outcome will be a good one. This is nothing new. It has always gone on in the long history of the Church. Yet God continues to work in spite of us.
It made me wonder: what if we began our General Conference with two days of prayer? No meetings, no protests, no rallies–just prayer. What if each day of the conference we worshipped together for an hour, but in a service of prayer, repentance, and supplication, invoking the Holy Spirit to guide our conversations and decisions? Wouldn’t this in itself be a demonstration of faith that we are placing our church in the hands of God, and not relying on our own clever maneuverings to shape our future?
In truth, only God knows what the future of the UMC will be. Our best hope moving forward it to humble ourselves, seek God’s will in the midst of chaos, and align ourselves with God’s purposes. This is going to require considerable focused, fervent prayer. We are going to have to repent of many things. God has not abandoned our church, but the question is, are we abandoning God?
20 thoughts on “Sometimes We Get It Right: The Aldersgate Covenant”
Thanks for the post. I’ve heard some people suggest that Annual Conferences, instead of getting churches anxious about needing to do more stuff, could themselves call for a whole year of prayer to discern the direction God has for each congregation and the church as a whole. Great to hear that Aldersgate Covenant is doing just that.
Agreed, though I’d skip the “worship together.” Not that worship isn’t fundamental – it is – but at GC2012, it was distressing to see how politics and neo-pagan elements slipped their way into liturgy, music, preaching – even decor.
I’d give my left arm for a quiet, open room with a lot of chairs, giving us all a chance to shut up and listen to God speak. Doing so as a community would do wonders, and I hope I would have ears to hear.
I’m glad it went well. I was personally quite skeptical, considering the source. Adam has a pretty strong drive to get the language in the BoD changed. I was concerned about what his motives might be.
You highlight the biggest problem we have in the UMC: a lack of trust. I was initially glad to hear about UMC folk actually having prayer meetings. But then when I read that it would be at Resurrection, I thought “Well, what’s the agenda?” It was hard for me to believe that Adam and his bunch (or whoever organized the event) just simply wanted to pray and seek revival. And – to be honest – I’m still quite skeptical but I do want to commend any group for coming together to pray in such a manner. I just pray that their motivations match their words.
I am a new comer to the United Methodist faith, converting during seminary. I have been reading so much on the splitting of the church that I am a little frightened. I have questioned my decision several times, whether I made the right choice of jumping ship from the Presbyterians. My decision to leave was on theology and not over current issues. This blog has made me think how lucky I am to be a Methodist when someone like Dr. Watson can see the need for prayer and lots of it. I will continue to pray for God’s work in us, and I think it would be wonderful to just sit among all of you and do nothing but pray. God Bless
Like several others I too was skeptical when I heard about this event. David your reporting makes me feel much better. I would like to see this happen at Annual Conference rather than so much politicking and squabble over miniscule points. I truly believe we need to be seeking God’s agenda for ministry instead of jumping onto the latest bandwagon and then asking God to bless our efforts. If we ask where God is already working and then join in that effort we will be doing a whole lot better.
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