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Sending Prayer Mantles to General Conference03/21/2012
By Rita L. Smith, UMW President and General Conference Delegate
The United Methodist Women were privileged to co-host the Jurisdictional Event for the Upper Room Prayer Ministry for the 2012 General Conference with the Connectional Ministries and the Outdoor and Retreat Ministries.
On the record 80 degree winter warm day of March 16 and 17, 2012 in the Chicagoland area, many gathered from around the conference at Our Savior’s United Methodist Church in Schaumburg, IL.
Rev. Tom Albin, Dean of Upper Room Ministries and Ecumenical Relations led the groups in prayer training. Joyce Estes, Chair of Artistic Design General Conference Prayer Ministry led the participants in making mantles (scarves made of silk) for the delegates and bishops.
There were three, 3-hour sessions on Friday and one 3-hour session on Saturday. Participants came from across the conference reflecting our diversity in culture and age. We were blessed to have Ligaya Marasigan bring some salt from her home in the Philippines by the way of the China Sea to help in the designing of the mantles. We were also grateful for Joyce Carrasco, as she interpreted for our Hispanic/Latino sisters.
Prayer began each session led by Tom Albin. He reminded us of John and Charles Wesley theology that praying is in everything we say and do. As we witnessed in prayer throughout the session, we prayed before we made the mantles, while we were making the mantles and after the completion of the mantles. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them pray and Tom taught us how to pray with our eyes open, lifting our prayers in our hands and then releasing them to Jesus in the air.
Friday, the groups participated in the initial 50 Days of Prayer Before and During General Conference. Saturday’s group participated in the second day of the prayer covenant. “Prayer lies at the heart of Jesus’ life and work, and is essential for each of us” Tom said. During the sessions, participants painted the scarves with various shades of blue dye creating unique patterns and then brought them outside to dry in the warm sun.
The theme of the General Conference is “Discipleship by the Sea.” Since the delegation will meet by the sea, Joyce said of the beautiful silk scarves, “I have tried to compliment the theme by the colors of dark blue, turquoise and light blue for the light coming from the sky as well as light in the water. The coarse salt (spread on the silk after the scarves are painted with blue dye) makes the design. As we are used by God to make a difference in the space that we live or called to minister, God can use us to create a design in others lives by being disciples of Jesus Christ.”
As the approximately 980 delegates from around the world gather in Tampa, Florida and wear their mantles, we pray the delegates know they were made in love and are wrapped in prayer from women, men, youth and children as they go through the many days of work for the church. For more information on the 50 Days of Prayer Before and During General Conference visit www.upperroom.org.