Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Sending Forth to General Conference

This Sunday we at CWM will commission nearly one-third of our worshipping congregation as they prepare to travel to Fort Worth for the United Methodist Church's General Conference.

Every four years the global United Methodist Church gathers to consider our theology, tradition and polity, allowing the Holy Spirit to move in and through the church as we engage in holy conferencing. As in years past, this General Conference will take up significant matters in the life of the church...the global nature of the church, our theology of ministry, questions of the episcopacy, and issues of social justice related to war, economic injustice, immigration and sexuality. To find out more about General Conference you can go to the United Methodist website or the Reconciling Ministries General Conference blog.

CWM has historically commissioned missionaries to go to General Conference in order to faithfully witness to God's love and prophetically call the Church to ministries of peace and justice. This year, we send our missionaries forth with a special rite of blessing. This blessing was adapted from a similar service in the book, Shaping Sanctuary, edited by Kelly Turney (Reconciling Ministries Network, 2000).

Commissioning Our CWM Missionaries

One: All who seek to follow Jesus are called into ministries of love and service, making real the Body of Christ for the world.

All: We gather this day to offer blessings to our missionaries, our witnesses, our friends, who offer themselves to the United Methodist General Conference as living testimonies to the love of God, the joy of Christ and the peace-filled power of the Holy Spirit.

One: Throughout the ages, O God, you have sent forth your people to proclaim peace and justice in the midst of a broken world. You have called ordinary people to extraordinary tasks, empowering them through your Spirit with courage, conviction, strength, wisdom, and love. Just as you have filled those before us with your Spirit, so now breathe upon these missionaries and empower them for service and witness.

All: Fill them with the spirit of Moses and Miriam as they led the Hebrew people from slavery to freedom.

One: Fill them with the spirit of Queen Esther as she defied conventional wisdom to save her people.

All: Fill them with the spirit of the disciples, bereft from the departure of their friend Jesus, yet able to organize a new community founded on the promises of love, joy and peace.

One: Fill them with the spirit of Stephen, Lydia, Dorcas, Timothy and so many other early Christians who risked living a minority faith in an empire of oppression and enforced uniformity.

All: Fill them with the spirit of Rosemary Denman, Paul Abels, Jimmy Creech, Greg Dell, Beth Stroud, Drew Phoenix and so many other faithful advocates for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

One: We pray that through the power of your Holy Spirit and their faithful witness, they might embody Christ for our broken Church. Let us join together in commissioning and blessing our friends.

All: God of peace and God of justice, pour out your Holy Spirit upon these missionaries that they might be for the world a living testimony to you. We pray that by this commissioning, their hands and hearts might be strengthened to be compassionate to human need, tender in their care for one another, and faithful to your hope of a better world. Bless them with love. Bless them with joy. Bless them with peace. Amen.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

thank you for remembering Greg today. I am missing him so much right now and I do know that his spirit, as well as the lessons and wisdom I have learned at his side, will be with me in TX.