Praying our Way Forward
Haymarket Church and the United Methodist Church
Haymarket Church is a United Methodist Church, part of the Virginia Conference (region) of the United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church is a diverse collection of churches from around the world and across various perspectives on politics and what it means to follow Jesus in everyday life.
Because of our diversity as a church, we often have to work very hard to remain united in love. We believe that our unity enables us to see God more clearly (because all people are created in God’s image, we see God most clearly when we are open to others – especially others who are different from us), and better hear the voice of God speaking today (unity with people who think differently from us opens us to fresh perspectives). We also believe that our unity allows us to do amazing work – fighting against malaria, working against poverty, advocating for justice, responding to disasters, developing churches and leaders around the world, and more. Being part of a church that spans so much of the globe and unites so many diverse people enables us to be ready to quickly and effectively do the work of God wherever it is needed around the globe.
Being part of such a beautifully diverse global body also means that we sometimes disagree. In particular, the United Methodist Church is currently wrestling with how to remain united in love amidst some pretty significant disagreement over things like marriage and ordination for LGBTQ people. Many faithful United Methodists believe that Scripture prohibits LGBTQ relationships. On the other hand, many other faithful United Methodists (and Christians from a variety of traditions) believe that God may be doing a new thing (similar to the stories from the New Testament of how God did a new thing by including Gentiles in the early church).
The United Methodist Church is spending the next few years working on how to move forward together and remain united in love and service to God and God’s the world amidst these disagreements. In a world where differences of opinion often become bitter and divisive, we United Methodists want to show the world a better way – we want to show the world what it looks like to disagree, have hard conversations, and yet still move forward together due to our shared commitment to Jesus. Our Bishops have appointed a Commission on a Way Forward to help us find our way forward together. Over the next several years, this group of church leaders from around the world and across political perspectives will be helping us discern where God is calling us to go and how God is calling us to move forward in this area of our life together.
Praying Our Way Forward
As part of this process, people from around the United Methodist Church have been asked to pray for this Comission and its work. We believe that even the most difficult conversations are possible when we rely upon God.
From April 2-8, the Virginia Conference will participate in a week of intentional prayer for the mission of The United Methodist Church and for the work of the Commission on a Way Forward which began meeting in January. Haymarket Church has been asked to pray on Tuesday, April 4, from 6 to 8 AM.
This week of Praying Our Way Forward is an initiative of the Council of Bishops as a part of their larger commitment to lead the church in every part of the world in times of worship, study, discernment, confession and prayer for God’s guidance.
Each annual conference in The United Methodist Church will participate in this prayer ministry which was launched on January 1 in the North Carolina Conference and will conclude in the West Angola Episcopal area in June 2018.
Beginning Saturday, April 1 with the Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer at Trinity UMC in Richmond, our Virginia conference will enter into a week of prayer in response to the Council of Bishops’ initiative called Praying Our Way Forward.
Our conference will meet together for the Convocation on Saturday, will join in a Day of Prayer on Sunday, April 2, and then will blanket the remainder of the week (April 3-8) in prayer as Districts.
Praying our Way Forward at Haymarket Church
Haymarket Church has been asked to take our part in praying for this process from 6 to 8 AM on Tuesday, April 4. During that time, the Old Bank Building will be open for prayer, and Pastor Brian will be there to pray with you. If you cannot make it to the Old Bank Building at that time, we are asking that each person from Haymarket Church spend 10 minutes during that window praying for the worldwide work and future of the United Methodist Church – including our process of discernment around issues discussed above, but also for our unity and continued effective work putting God’s love into action. There are resources below to help you pray on your own during that time. We believe that praying together opens up new possibilities. God can make a way forward even when we aren’t sure how that’s possible!
Resources for Prayer
As you pray for the future of the United Methodist Church, here are some resources. Feel free to pick and choose pieces from these (whichever parts work for you!) to help you pray on April 4 (and beyond!).
Resources for United Methodists in Virginia The United Methodist Church in Virginia has put together some prayers, some Scripture readings, and some reflections for this time of prayer. We encourage you to make use of them!
Sample Structure for Time of Prayer This resource offers suggested Scripture readings, prayers, and reflections to help structure your time. We will be using something like this during our time together at the Old Bank Building.