Virginia Conference observes prayer vigil for General Conference

The Virginia Conference held a 24-hour prayer vigil, Sunday, April 10, for General Conference with congregations and individuals in each district taking specific times to pray so that someone in the conference was praying continuously from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The day of prayer was held in response to the United Methodist Council of Bishops’ request that each annual conference designate one day to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil for General Conference sometime between Jan. 1 and May 10, the opening day of General Conference.

Virginia Conference churches used a variety of methods to conduct their prayer vigils. For example:

  The Rev. Penny Cory points out Portland, Ore., on a globe.

Kilmarnock UMC, Fredericksburg District, focused on prayer with the sermon,  “Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit” and the Scripture lesson from Hebrews 4:14-16. They also focused on the quote, "Good prayers shake heaven and good prayers shape community."  (Paul Chilcote, Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit: 52 Prayers for Today)

The Rev. Penny Cory led a prayer for all General Conference delegates and for God's perfect will to be done throughout General Conference proceedings. She placed her hand on a globe with her finger pointing to Portland, and the people of the congregation held their hands toward the globe as they joined in prayer. 

  Members of Oak Level UMC pray for General Conference and dedicate handmade
  totes to be used for UMCOR School Kits.

Oak Level UMC, Harrisonburg District, focused on General Conference and the Virginia Annual Conference. Members gathered around the altar for special prayer for General Conference and dedication of 182 totes handmade by Ruby Swart to be used for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) school kits to be brought to this year’s Annual Conference.

At Oakton UMC, Arlington District, planning for the Day of Prayer began a few months ago with formation of a Prayer Vigil team. The team of two staff and three lay people brainstormed how to make the prayer vigil meaningful as well as informative. They decided to hold prayer time from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, and every worship bulletin included a specific issue that will be discussed at General Conference.

The Rev. Dawn-Marie Singleton discussed the need for prayer and explained how delegates were elected and countries that will be represented. 

During the time for prayer, various stations were set up, each dealing with different issues from General Conference. Members were asked to pray for that issue and write prayers for General Conference on Post-It notes that were placed on the sanctuary wall.

Members were invited to touch water in a baptismal station and to pray that all decisions at General Conference be made in love and with the mindset that Christ is the foundation of it all.

  A toolbox reminds Oakton UMC members of their own
  spiritual gifts.

Another station was a toolbox with various tools to remind members of their own spiritual gifts. A card at the station asked, "Is there a tool in this tool box that best represents one of your talents?"  The toolbox contained some unexpected tools, showing that God's work requires a wide diversity of talents and gifts.  (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

Important decisions will be made for the denomination at General Conference 2016 in Portland. To hear from some of the Virginia Conference delegates to General Conference and learn how they are preparing, view a video at


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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