Leaders of four Methodist denominations pray for peace
Ten leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AMEZ), the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church and the UMC spent one hour on Saturday, Oct. 31 in a virtual prayer session.
Each of the 10 participants was assigned a topic related to the Nov. 3 election.
Prayers for election integrity
“This is one of the most important elections we will ever see in our lifetime,” said AMEZ Bishop Michael Frencher. “Our fore-parents made many sacrifices to give us the right to vote. Help us to not take our obligation lightly.”
Elected to the episcopacy in 2012, Frencher now serves as bishop of the Southwestern Delta District. He urged some 130 participants in the Zoom gathering “to examine all those seeking office” and vote for “people with high integrity.”
“May COVID-19 take a back seat,” he prayed, “and not play any role is stopping anyone from voting. We pray all people especially our young people will see the need to fully participate in the voting process and not be cynical, skeptical, scornful and unhopeful. Let their voices be loudly heard and their feelings widely felt as they cast their votes.”
Addressing the spiritual paralysis
UM Bishop James Swanson read Mark’s story of four men who cut through a roof in order to lower their paralyzed friend into the presence of Jesus in order to be healed.
“In the midst of COVID 19; in the midst of the tremendous push for racial justice; in the midst of economic crises all around the world, there are many people who are paralyzed,––maybe not physically–– but spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically, or they are confused about what they should do.”
The bishop assured the spiritually paralyzed, “We will not allow the paralysis to stop you from getting to where you need to go.” He hoped the one-hour virtual prayer session would “free you from your paralysis.”
The bishop, who serves as president of the General Commission on UM Men, noted that just as the men had to a barrier to reaching Jesus, so too do we have barriers such as voter suppression, the belief a single vote doesn’t count, or the belief we don’t need to wear masks because COVID is not real.
The bishop noted that when the paralyzed man was lowered into his presence, Jesus first addressed the man’s spiritual condition before he healed him. “There will be times when people will carry you, and you have the responsibility to carry others,” Swanson concluded.
Prayers for peace
Dr. Bryan Champion, a member of the CME Connectional Board, recalled a hymn with the words “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” He thought those words were especially appropriate as our nation is divided over health care, tax reform, unemployment, a Supreme Court appointment and the impeachment of the president. He noted that for the first time in 244 years we face the dangers related to the peaceful transition of power. “Help us to see Your vision of peace,” he prayed.
Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, asked God to cover each voter and each poll worker with a shield of safety. “May the entire country wait with grace and patience in the safety of your arms,” he prayed.