“Come Holy Spirit!” Those were the power-filled words prayed often on February 24 as the business of the 2019 General Conference moved ahead. Michigan delegates and guests feel God’s presence.
Senior Content Editor, Michigan Conference
On Sunday morning, February 24, United Methodists back home in Michigan were praying a prayer offered by Bishop David Bard. The prayer of blessing for the 2019 General Conference began like this: Gracious and loving God, who leads, teaches and guides, You who offer compassion, grace and mercy, be with us now. We passionately seek Your presence during challenging times and circumstances and we trust that you are moving in and around our lives.
As that prayer was lifted by congregations back home, delegates and observers in St. Louis listened to the preaching of Bishop Kenneth Carter, President of the Council of Bishops. Carter’s sermon said that the unity of the body of Christ should be the passionate concern of The United Methodist Church. “Remember,” he said, “you are the people of the cross and the flame.” Read the full text here; or listen to the sermon here.
Following worship, the Commission on A Way Forward made their report. The presentation of each of three plans – One Church, Connectional Conference, and Traditional – concluded with, “Come Holy Spirit.”
The winds of the Spirit were blowing between Michigan and Missouri throughout the day on February 24th. When asked how the Spirit was coming into their experience of General Conference, Michigan delegates and observers said …
- “The Holy Spirit has been coming to me in the messages and prayers of my MIUMC colleagues. I’m grateful they are supporting me in spirit-filled and thoughtful ways.” ~ Laura Witkowski
- “I have had a deep sense of peace through these days. The periodic words in texts and emails from people back in Michigan have been a great encouragement. There seems to be a healthy lightheartedness among the ‘spare’ delegates in the stands. The Spirit was clearly moving in the singing at the conclusion of the prioritizing votes.” ~ Rev. Benton Heisler
- “The Holy Spirit has changed and opened me up to the global witness of people who are putting their lives on the line for the gospel, and it gives me PEACE. Now, whether I choose to step into this stream of peace is another story, moment by moment. I do sense prayers surrounding us!” ~ Rev. Matthew Hook
- “Come Holy Spirit Come! The Commission on A Way Forward made that prayer loud and clear today. I sense that the delegates, including me, are leaving decisions in the Spirit’s hands.” ~ Jackie Euper
- “The Holy Spirit was felt in our dancing today while waiting for the voting results.” ~ Rev. Melanie Carey
- “Sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit is easy during dynamic worship and inspiring preaching. It’s during the fallow times when we aren’t sure what our way forward will be, that we trust God is at work beneath the surface, ‘melting, molding, filling, using,’ to fall afresh on our Church. I believe this is where we have been today, and I trust all will be well.” ~ Rev. Bill Johnson
- “When I think of that phrase, ‘Come Holy Spirit,’ and when I pray that, my prayer is that it will help people slow down and open up, to hear one another in new ways. It encourages people to allow themselves to be surprised in the midst of conversations.” ~ Bishop David Bard
- “The Holy Spirit is definitely moving here. I see the Holy Spirit when I think I am in control of something. Then the wrong thing happens and I am reminded that this is not about me. I think we’ve all gotten a healthy dose of that today, whatever your position is. I think that shows that the Spirit is still moving in ways that catches us off guard, to keep us on our toes so that we are not complacent. That keeps us really primed to see what the new thing is that the Spirit is going to bring in. I believe that, and think we should just say, ‘Thanks be to God!'” ~ Alex Plum
- “I am wearing this red velvet jacket as a representation of the love and prayers of the people who have made an impact on my life. I am carrying it with me this week as a constant reminder of the Spirit’s work all around us. I love those people and I know God loves them, too. And I am praying that the Church will receive God’s guidance. That’s my jacket.” ~ Rev. Dean Prentiss
- “The sessions that we are in are intense. When I hear those words, ‘Come Holy Spirit,’ it gives me hope that something good will come, that we will be in God’s plan. When you think about all the possibilities of how this meeting could go, there are many directions. I take comfort knowing that God is in charge and that when we leave here on Wednesday, God will still be in charge of our church. I will be saying, ‘Come Holy Spirit’ on my way home.” ~ Wayne Bank
Prayers and spiritual discernment did not end with the designated Day of Prayer on February 23. Clearly, Michigan delegates and their fellows are keeping hearts, minds, and souls open to the guidance of the Living God.