Symbols and prayer during Annual Conference 2017

May 31, 2017

By Rev. Kyle Durbin*

This year, you may notice a number of additional worship elements during the 2017 Annual Conference for the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. The worship team has made several intentional attempts to provide a thoroughly spiritual atmosphere throughout our week together, specifically, one that recognizes and invokes the power of our unifying theme, “We Are One: Connected in Covenant.”

During our opening worship ceremonies, each person will be provided with a different colored streamer to participate in celebratory praise and exaltation. The eight colors represented through the streamers denote the eight specific colors of each district in our conference: light blue for Annapolis, dark blue for Washington East, light purple for Baltimore Suburban, dark purple for Baltimore Metro, light orange for Central Maryland, dark orange for Greater Washington, light green for Cumberland-Hagerstown, and dark green for Frederick. While you may not receive the specific color associated with your personal district affiliation, through worship, we recognize our connectional relationship with one another throughout the conference as one body in Christ.

This “oneness” is further emphasized through the beautiful quilted worship banner that hangs over the altar during worship. While all eight colors of the districts in our conference are represented in the four quilted patterns present, the very concept of the quilt suggests how all of us, regardless of our position or where we are coming from, are woven together through, “the unity of the Spirit,” that Paul speaks of in the the fourth chapter of his letter to the Ephesians. The quilted worship banner was created by the So N Sew quilting team of Frostburg UMC, a ministry that has provided over 500 prayer quilts to any and all individuals in need of support and comfort. The group consists of 12 ladies, the oldest of whom is 93 years young, who meet every week to sew, stitch, pray, and fellowship with one another. Each quilt used in this year’s banner was specifically prayed over during worship, in which individuals tied knots in the fabric while offering blessings.

Finally, during opening worship, you will recognize eight color-coordinated banners with the names of each district in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. After opening worship, these banners will be moved to four different areas on the perimeter of the main hall. The banners, then, will become the foundation of four separate prayer stations that will be available throughout the duration of conference, each supplied with candlelight, a pen, and a prayer journal. Throughout the week, as you feel moved or led, you are encouraged to take a moment and write down any prayers you have in the journals, both personal and corporate prayers. As we conclude this year’s Annual Conference, during the Service of Appointments, the prayer journals will be presented before the altar as we collectively lift the prayers of all our people in one voice before our loving and merciful God, proclaiming not only that there is power in prayer, but acknowledging what we know to be true, “We Are One: Connected in Covenant.”

*The Rev. Kyle Durbin is the pastor at Frostburg UMC, and also serves this year as the Annual Conference Worship Team Co-Chair.