Starting the special session of General Conference on Saturday with a day of praise and worship was just what the Rev. Cheryl Jefferson Bell needed.
“It was preparing us spiritually to focus on God, and why we’re here – not to look at the issues immediately, but to get our spirits connected with God,” said Bell, associate pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Leawood and a Great Plains clergy delegate to General Conference.
The delegates were led in worship for about six hours, with various regions of the global denomination taking center stage with their own customs, languages and traditions. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. of the Great Plains Conference took part in worship by reading scripture from John 3 and by assisting with one of the communion stations for delegates on the floor of the conference.
“It reminds ourselves that we are global, that together we can really do great things,” said Esther Hay, a reserve lay delegate from Waverly, Nebraska.
Hay said the praise sessions inspired her.
“I think it was moving to see people engaged together in doing something positive,” she said. “Overall, I think the feeling was one of ‘We can do this together.’”
The international emphasis was meaningful for Lisa Maupin, a lay General Conference delegate from Lincoln.
“It’s a reminder of how big we are and how widespread we are as a church,” said Maupin, who is also conference lay leader. “For me, it was a reminder of the ministry, how far the church reaches and the impact that we as children of God are making and we as a denomination are making.”
“I think I needed to be reminded and the church needed to be reminded of the hope that exists in our ministry and what we are doing being the hands and feet of God,” Maupin added.
The most stirring moment for Maupin was the leading of a fervent prayer by the Korean representatives, which brought the College of Bishops together.
“They’re praying for us, our churches, our communities,” she said. “That, to me, was one of the most moving parts of the day. That was huge.”
The Rev. Eduardo Bousson, a reserve clergy delegate, said seeing the unity of the worship was uplifting.
“It was awesome. It gave me goosebumps,” said Bousson, campus minister at Nebraska Wesleyan University. “I don’t know what’s coming next, but this will be very instrumental as we go through the next few days.”
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