Keep Those Prayers Coming!


It is a tremendous privilege to be on the team of those representing the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference at General Conference and Western Jurisdiction Conference. While I doubt that I’ll experience any actual “floor time” in either setting, I am honored to be among those from our conference working to assess, discern, strategize, partner, debate, vote and pray our way forward as a denomination. My assignment at General Conference is to sit in as an observer of the Conferences Legislative Committee, which will address petitions related to membership criteria and processes of the General Conference, Jurisdictional Conferences, Annual Conferences, Missionary Conferences and Central Conferences.

This will be the third General Conference I have attended. My first was in Cleveland in 2000. For me it was inspiring and depressing, connectional and fractious, visionary and petty, intimate and overwhelming. In other words, the Church writ large. I left Cleveland wondering if I ever wanted to experience anything like that again! I did in Ft Worth in 2008. And while the manipulations of politics were still clearly on display, a much greater effort was made to emphasize civility and grace and to lift up the evidence of a world being transformed in big and small ways through the faithfulness of the Church on all levels and in all places. 

Now it’s 2012 and United Methodist delegates from around the globe are invading Tampa Bay for another round of conferencing. I’m very grateful for the prayers that are being said for our Church and our time of conferencing, and I want to thank the folks at Westside UMC for building this foundation of prayer in our annual conference. I’ve been trying to clarify my own prayers for our conferencing this quadrennium. I suppose my deepest prayer is that the Holy Spirit will infiltrate our gatherings, capture our passion, and form our imagination as to how we, the people called United Methodist, can best partner with Christ, one another, other visionaries, the doers of good and the despisers of injustice to nudge today’s world toward something that more closely reflects the kingdom of God as proclaimed by Jesus. We worry too much, I think, about saving (or preserving) our denomination. If that becomes our main goal, then we’ve forgotten our main reason for being here and are focusing on the wrong things!

Don’t you dare quit praying when General Conference concludes! I covet your prayers for our Annual Conference that is scheduled to meet in Salem this June under the leadership of Bishop Hoshibata. And then in July, delegates from the Annual Conferences in the western US will meet in San Diego for the Western Jurisdictional Conference. I have to confess that I am probably more interested in the business of our Jurisdictional Conference than I am the General Conference, for this will be one of those rare occasions when there will not be an election of a bishop and we in the west will decide how to creatively pursue our vision with one fewer bishop! 

Keep those prayers coming!


Scott Harkness
Scott Harkness is a pastor in Roseburg, Oregon. He is a reserve delegate to the 2012 Western Jurisdiction Conference and will be attending General Conference as an additional reserve delegate and observer. Previously Scott has served the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference as Director of Connectional Ministries and Assistant to the Bishop.