Clarence’s Clarion Call – Prayers Predominate

     by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister

Gracious Lord, we acknowledge your greatness, your power, and your love for us. We come with confidence as we ask for your leading and blessing on our conference. We come knowing that we need your wisdom as decisions and choices are made. Give us love, tolerance and sensitivity toward each other during this time of coming together. We want to do your will. Show us very clearly what that is, so that our actions may glorify your name. May your Spirit rest on us all! Amen.

Lucinda Goossen, a college student, penned this prayer on Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church’s blue prayer cloth that was knitted into the St. Louis River of Prayer in 1999. This was the national convention that began the formation of Mennonite Church USA. Brian Stucky from Alexanderwohl brought that cloth with its prayers to me for the Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) meeting in North Newton, Kansas, March 20-22.

The union of Mennonite Church USA begun in St. Louis seems threatened with Mountain States Mennonite Conference credentialing a pastor living in a same-sex relationship and a number of other conferences reconsidering their relationship with Mennonite Church USA. Prayer was needed for this gathering of 70 elders of Mennonite Church USA. The prayer cloth graced the center of my table for the three-day gathering of discernment.

Reports of the meeting will emerge elsewhere. I want to note the importance of prayer in guiding us through difficult conversation including all the prayers in the book of Philippians. Particularly noteworthy was an hour of listening-to-God prayer after which persons shared their reflections including very personal confessions. In times of difficult congregational decisions or conference discussions we often feel rushed for enough time. Could it be that listening-to-God prayer might save us considerable time? It certainly shaped the spirit of our CLC meeting to being more kind, more loving, and more thoughtful though no less convictional in our statements.

Helpful to myself and many others were prayers of relinquishment like this one:

Lord, we all come to this table with our own agendas, our own desires, our egos and personal likes and dislikes. In this moment we lay down our wills to seek nothing more, nothing less, nothing else than your will to be revealed among us. Help us to do this very hard thing. Let us know in the moment when we are pushing our own agendas. May each of us die to self so that you might rise and be seen among us in this time of discernment.

I invite you to share in these prayers for yourself, Western District Conference and Mennonite Church USA.

Recommendations from CLC table groups will be collated by a Task Group which in turn will bring recommendations to the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA in regard to next steps.