By: Rev. MaryAnne Korsch
For the past eight months, members of more than 190 churches across the Dakotas-Minnesota Area have been creating beautiful, hand-made purple scarves that will be given to General Conference 2020 participants as a gesture of welcome. This initiative, called the Lydia Project (after Lydia in Acts 16), aims to provide warm hospitality to all who join in the work of legislation, fellowship, and worship when our global connection meets in Minneapolis in May 2020.
Over the past week, the number of scarves pledged exceeded the ambitious 10,000 goal!
The scarves were initially planned as a practical solution to drafty, overly-air-conditioned convention center spaces. Quickly, though, they became a symbol of the Dakotas-Minnesota Host Committee’s intention to provide radical hospitality, emphasize our oneness in Christ, and create a memorable experience for all attendees. It didn’t take long for the excitement to spread. Across our three-state area, simple purple yarn is being transformed into gifts of love and prayers for the future of our denomination.
Some knitting groups have set regular meeting times to work together.
“We meet Sundays after church, and I’m not sure what’s more fun… the conversation, the laughter, or the sense of accomplishment!” said a member of one knitting group.
Many churches have exceeded their initial pledge because participants are enjoying the process so much.
Becky Woolverton, a member of Bethlehem UMC in Hutchinson, said her church established a "Stitch and a Prayer" knitting small group last fall, and group members have been hard at work knitting scarves for the Lydia Project ever since. They have completed 20 scarves and hope to get another 15 done before the 2019 Annual Conference in St. Cloud, where scarves from across the state will be collected and blessed by attendees.
In other congregations, it works best to have stitchers work more independently, and then bring the fruits of their labors to church for a blessing before they are packed and prepared for distribution. Pledges have ranged from five scarves to 500 scarves—and no gift is too large or too small. In every case, prayers are thoughtfully woven into every stitch.
Because of our congregations' generous response to the Lydia Project, every participant at General Conference 2020—delegates and alternates, bishops and spouses, dignitaries, visitors, musicians, and other guests—will receive a tangible reminder of God’s love and the prayers of the host conferences. This is hospitality that exceeds expectations!
The Lydia Project is a tremendous opportunity for congregations across the Dakotas and Minnesota to be involved in preparing to host fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world in May 2020. Even more important are your prayers for God’s presence and guidance as we move forward as The United Methodist Church, seeking always to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Thanks be to God!
Go here to learn more about the Lydia Project.
Rev. MaryAnne Korsch is a deacon at First UMC (the Coppertop) in Duluth and a member of the local General Conference 2020 Host Committee. She is coordinating the Lydia Project and happy to answer questions about it and help congregations get involved.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church