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Planning a prayer vigil

A prayer vigil can be a communal lament, an act of solidarity, or a time to bring light to brokenness in society. As an act of public witness, it offers the community a space to connect with God so that God’s vision for love and justice can be carried out through us.

As United Methodists, we understand prayer vigils to be grounded in the power of the Holy Spirit to change people’s
hearts and minds and to strengthen us in our work and witness.

Here are some things to consider when you are organizing a prayer vigil as an act of public witness:

1. Define your goal and message: As your begin planning your prayer vigil, have your team define the goals and key
message. Speakers should reflect this vision in their prayers, songs, remarks, etc.

2. Determine the most effective messengers to influence your decision maker: Are there speakers who are directly
impacted that can share their experience? Are there faith leaders who will capture the attention of your decision
maker?

3. Host your vigil in a strategic location: The location of your event is sometimes just as important as the message you share. Think about a place that will offer great visibility to the public and to your decision maker.

4. Highlight the diversity of faiths present: If your event is ecumenical and/or interfaith, encourage leaders to offer
prayers or rituals from their faith tradition. It is a meaningful witness when we come together to lift up shared values and messages while recognizing the distinctiveness of each tradition. Including a diverse representation of leaders emphasizes the breadth of commitment to the issue and demonstrates the power of the collective voice.

5. Draw on symbolic and creative traditions: Our faith traditions and rituals offer powerful and creative ways to
express our values. During a prayer vigil, consider including religious texts, symbols, and rituals (e.g. clerical
vestments, candlelit processions, foot washings, and hymns). If your vigil is ecumenical and/or interfaith, be respectful and welcoming of all faiths present and keep from elevating any one tradition over another.
6. Be creative with your communication materials: Make visuals that succinctly convey your message. Don’t be afraid to visually call upon decision makers by including their names in your signage.

7. Reach a broader audience: Livestream your prayer vigil on social media and invite local journalists to attend.
On the next page you will find a planning checklist to help you organize your prayer vigil.

1 John 5:16

16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.

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First, we must understand church is not a building, a Sunday school class, or a service time. According to scripture, a church gathering is a group of people coming together in Christ and the people are the church. Jesus shows us in Matthew 18 that a gathering can be as little as two people together.

The service usually involves the singing of hymns, reading of scripture verses and possibly a psalm. If the church follows a lectionary, the sermon will often be about the scripture lections assigned to that day. Eucharistic churches have usually Holy Communion either every Sunday or several Sundays a month.

There are no rules as to what to bring to church, other than your self, an open heart and mind. Some bring a bible, if you’re going to engage in bible study.

If you want to know how to dress for church, something modest and comfortable should be fine. Generally, graphic tees that show off sports team logos or bands should never be worn to church. Solid-colored tops are fine, and even something with a pattern should be OK to wear.

Ask your friends if they have a place to worship the Savior and invite them to come worship with you, especially at times like Christmas and Easter. If they aren’t Christians, ask them if they’d like to learn more about Jesus Christ and invite them to experience a Christian worship service with you. Remember to show the same respect for their beliefs that you hope they will give yours.

 There are many questions Christians are asked that the individual Christian is unable to answer. It happens all the time.

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