On behalf of the delegation, the Rev. David Graves is extending an invitation across Holston Conference for church members to attend the forum, which will be held 10 a.m. to noon at First United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tenn. Graves is head of the delegation.
“Members will always have the opportunity to express their thoughts and viewpoints through the delegation’s email address,” said Graves, “but this will be the only opportunity to share their comments in person with the full delegation before General Conference.”
General Conference, the denomination’s top policy-making body, will meet at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on May 10-20. In June 2015, the Holston Annual Conference elected 12 delegates plus four alternates (half clergy, half lay members) to attend General Conference.
“March 12 will be a time for church members to share but not to debate,” Graves said. “You are free to share your heart but please do it in the spirit of Christian love.”
In all, 864 delegates will come to Portland from every corner of the world. The Council of Bishops planned 131 days of 24-hour prayer vigils in each of the 131 regional conferences in The United Methodist Church. The Upper Room has prepared multiple prayer resources.
April 12 has been designated as Holston Conference’s day to pray. Graves asked that church members save the date and look for plans and resources to be announced soon.
“We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to be there, to soften our hearts and open our minds to do God’s will,” Graves said.
On Sunday, Feb. 21, Graves shared his own concerns and hopes for General Conference in a sermon at Church Street United Methodist Church, where he is senior pastor.
Preaching from Luke 13:31-35, Graves said the current division among United Methodists concerning human sexuality mirrors the nation’s political polarization.
“People want to come out and fight. We’re the Body of Christ. We’re not called to do that,” he said.
Graves’ Feb. 21 message is available on YouTube through the weekly Church Street TV program, “Rejoice.”
“Can we find a way to live together in the midst of our differences?" Graves said. "We can find common ground.”
Contact the Holston Conference delegation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Praying for GC2016: What will happen? (UMNS, 2.24.16)
Delegation leaders share news from Portland briefing (The Call, 1.28.16)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.