Men’s Ministry leaders from four denominations conduct 3-hour prayer session
“Why should leaders of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion, and the United Methodist Church gather for prayer when everyone is marching on the street?”
That’s the question Bishop James Swanson, president of the General Commission on UM Men, asked some 300 participants in a September 27 on-line day of prayer and meditation at which 15 people offered meditations and prayers.
Swanson noted the disciples understood the importance of prayer because they only asked Jesus to teach them how to do one thing. “Teach us how to pray” is the only request of Jesus reported in the Gospels.
The bishop said prayer acknowledges we can’t change things on our own and it recognizes our inability to match our deeds with our words as we pray to become one.
“Prayer is the most underutilized weapon in our spiritual arsenal,” said the Rev. Dr. Eleazer Merriweather, pastor of a St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion.
“We need prayer like we’ve never needed it before,” said the Rev. Dr. Leone C. Moore, general secretary of Evangelism and Missions for the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. He said moral decay, racism, and division in the U.S. underscore our need for prayer.
The Rev. Ronald Davis, a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, said the pandemic helped bring us together even while we remain in our homes, “the most essential part of our lives.” He encouraged participants to “take back the home” and make it more “Christ-like.”
The final participant in the Zoom event was Hank Dozier, former president of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of UM Men. “God is showing us amazing things amid this pandemic and racial tension,” he said. “Shalom doesn’t mean the absence of conflict; it is the right relationship with God. It is harmony between God and all creation.”
Despite of the fact there were some 300 people who visited at least some portion of the 3-hour event, and despite the fact that 15 people spoke from 15 different vocations, the only time the internet failed was when it deprived people from hearing the conclusion of Dozier’s meditation and prayer.
Make bricks without straw
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton suggested our situation today is similar to one experienced by the Hebrew people when the Pharaoh told them they must make bricks without straw and still produce the same number of bricks in the same amount of time.
Companies are down-sizing and people have lost their jobs, but they are still expecting the same daily output.
Teachers are expected to educate our children without adequate resources.
“We are told to get back to work and school, but without health guidelines or money.
“This is a new slavery,” said the bishop.
The bishop said when the Pharaoh issued the order, some of the people responded with “hopeless resignation” and others responded with “contentious complaining.” “That’s the exact description of some of our people,” she said.
She urged her 300 prayer partners to respond like Moses and Aaron. “Don’t give in. Don’t give out or complain. Reclaim the unseen and the not-yet.
“We can make a difference even in an unjust society. Don’t be discouraged, God will take care of us as we walk and work together.”
Sign of unity
In the introductory meditation, the Rev. Scot Moore, director of men’s ministry for the African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion, called the 3-hour session an “historic event.”
“I strongly believe this is a time the church should not only talk about unity, but it should show unity.”
Moore celebrated the diversity by comparing the gathering to a bouquet of flowers; each type of flower enhances the beauty of the whole bouquet. “Unity is not uniformity,” he said.
Dr. Alanzo Smith, a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion, and Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, lifted up three simple words taught by John Wesley, founder of Methodism: 1) Do no harm; 2) Do good: 3) Follow the ordinance of God, such as prayer, searching the Scripture, and fasting.
Hanke told the gathering about the Wesley Class Meetings formed by John Wesley in order to provide accountability for the participants. Today, these same type meetings can be held by Zoom. Participants ask each other “How is your soul today?” “Where did God try to lead you?” and “Where will you go to become an ‘on-growing’ disciple next week?”
“Today is only the beginning of what we can do together,” he concluded.