Dr. Dwight Judy (inset) speaks to a full sanctuary at Bon Air UMC on Saturday, May 18, at the Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer
About 270 people participated in the Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer on May 18 at Bon Air UMC and learned that contemplative prayer was all about listening for God’s message to us.Bishop Young Jin Cho said that “no spiritual vitality means no vital congregations,” the main reason he is putting such emphasis on prayer as the key spiritual discipline in each Christian’s life in this his first year as an episcopal leader. Dr. Dwight Judy of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in the Chicago area was the keynote speaker. He is the author of the book “The Quiet Pentecost.” Bishop Cho
Retired pastor the Rev. David Canada
leads a small group.
discovered the book at the Leadership Academy for New Bishops at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. After reading the book, Bishop Cho said he decided “this is the person we need” to speak on contemplative prayer. Bishop Cho told the audience that Judy delayed travel to his 50th high school reunion to be present in Richmond.
Click here to view video of Dr. Judy’s address on the VAUMC YouTube channel
Judy said that a movement was “coming quietly and unheralded” of being willing to “listen for God’s prompting to us to be in a prayerful posture.” The biblical account of Pentecost was an “extravaganza where 3,000 people were brought into the church,” Judy said. “Our culture today only pays attention to the ‘big stuff,’ and we keep hoping for another Pentecost, a ‘grand fix’ to help mainline churches fix all our problems.” Judy talked about “Lexio Divina” or “holy reading,” the notion that God will speak to us through reading the scriptures. He also used the message from John chapter 20 of Jesus’ message to the disciples of “peace be with you.”
Dan Walker talks about his prayer experiences.
I only wish The United Methodist Church would stop worrying and hear the message of ‘peace be with you’,” Judy said. “Despite all the bad news for our denominations, a ‘quiet Pentecost’ is happening. There is a spiritual formation explosion happening, and our culture is transforming from the bottom up.” Judy gave examples of contemplative prayer being used in what we might consider unusual settings, and lauded the many different kinds of small group studies that have sprung up in the past few years. Being still and listening for God’s message will also open up new avenues for mission and evangelism, Judy said. He called on all Virginia Conference churches to create a Prayer Room in their facilities. “Let’s invite everyone to learn prayer practices. People are hungry to experience solitude in the presence of God. The one complaint I hear over and over is ‘no one ever taught me how to pray.’” He also chided a church that values “membership over discipleship.” “We are obsessed with numbers and it is
The Rev. Kim Barker-Brugman from Silverbrook UMC, leads
a small group.
killing us,” he said. “We forget about the two or three who are gathered … that’s where Jesus is going to be.” Participants broke into small groups on topics related to prayer, from “Prayer 101” to “Making Congregational Decisions Using Prayer,” shared lunch and a final worship service.
-Neill Caldwell is editor of the Advocate