Photo courtesy of Reconciling Ministries Network
Wall of prayer fabrics at the 2008 General Conference
In cooperation with the Love Your Neighbor/Common Witness Coalition, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has announced its schedule of major events for the 2012 General Conference April 24-May 4 in Tampa, Florida.
The following information is taken from the MFSA email newsletter of March 29:
Love Your Neighbor welcomes Dr. James Cone as the preacher at a noon worship service April 29 at the Straz Performing Arts Center. Dr. Cone will speak from his life experience and connect that experience to contemporary hopes for justice. Dr. Cone was recently interviewed by Bill Moyers on his book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. The worship service will be "streamed" and posted online. Rev. Delyn Celec coordinates the worship team. Delyn was a part of the denominational worship team leading General Conference in 2008 and continues her work at Shenandoah University. This past year she was "extraordinarily" ordained by Church Within a Church. Rev. Tanya Linn Bennett, professor of worship at Drew University, will design the service.
Love Your Neighbor and MFSA invite United Methodists to join in the "Send Your Prayers to General Conference" project. Fabric prayer cloths will be draped or attached to the fence around a tabernacle tent to create a prayer wall. Reconciling churches, communities, campus ministries and individuals are invited to send fabric prayer strips for the Love Your Neighbor prayer wall. Those not bringing prayer strips with them to General Conference may mail them to the Reconciling Ministries Network office or Howard Johnson Hotel (mailing information below) and a Love Your Neighbor volunteer will attach the prayers to the wall during General Conference.
Love Your Neighbor encourages participants to create their prayers during worship framed by a litany or music. To create a fabric prayer strip for this project, cut a strip of fabric no larger than 2 inches wide by 30 inches long. Select a fabric or use scraps from other projects. Written prayers show up best on bright colored fabric (patterned or plain). Write a prayer on one side of the fabric using permanent marker. Permanent markers bleed through fabric so protect the writing surface underneath.
Prayer fabrics may be mailed to arrive by April 18 to Reconciling Ministries Network c/o Meg Carey, 3801 North Keeler Ave, Fl 3, Chicago, IL 60641 or to arrive between April 19 and May 2 to Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, c/o Meg Carey (LYN office), 111 West Fortune St., Tampa, FL 33602.
Beyond the work that MFSA is doing as part of the Love Your Neighbor/Common Witness Coalition, the organization also will raise awareness of issues central to its mission.
MFSA has created a witness team that will stage demonstrations of a plumb line to embody the words of the prophet Amos that serve as the organization's theological basis. Plumb line sightings will be held throughout General Conference in a variety of locations at the Tampa Convention Center. In addition, as part of her internship with MFSA, Wesley Seminary student Heather Kramer has designed a 40-day prayer calendar for delegates at General Conference. The first 10 days can be used while in Tampa, and the remaining 30 can be used after returning home. This calendar could also be used again during seasons of discernment and preparation.
MFSA plans a reception, "Gathering: Out of the Wilderness," at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 28 at a location to be announced (likely the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel where caucus leaders will stay). Speakers will present MFSA's mission and volunteer opportunities. Hors d'oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages will be served.
MFSA also will provide reusable water bottles to help General Conference delegates and observers cope with the Florida heat and humidity. Those who accept a water bottle will be asked to pledge to opt for public tap water instead of bottled water and to support the efforts of local officials who prioritize strong public water systems over corporate bottled water profits.