God, son and Holy Spirit, thank you for good rest, travel mercies and the opportunity to gather together. Lead us today to submit our thoughts, reasoning and fears before you. You God are our existence, creation and continuity. Our father and mother, our healer and sustainer, bless us today to understand who we are and what we are in association with others. We are your children and wait anxiously for your touch and guidance. We are willing to reform ourselves in new ways which are sometimes unknown and around corners not visible, but nevertheless exciting and necessary. Jesus Christ, new paths are sometimes dangerous and non-existent but with your inspiration we will get the courage to try and create new paths which will offer sustenance for those following. Holy Spirit, fill us with the courage to stand and lead well. Amen.
Confession (all together)
Forgive us gracious God for not looking at each other, understanding one another and travelling closer together. We have slipped into known and easy ways and are standing on the reformations and laurels brought about by people gone by. Allow us Christ Jesus to understand our short comings and submit ourselves in prayer before the comforting and assuring presence of God. Reignite Holy Spirit the flame inside us and may we get up first and account for the sins we have committed rather than looking to justifying our sins by identifying the sins of others. Amen.
Assurance of pardon
Is there anything beyond and impossible for God? We are capable of everything by the one who strengthens us. God assures us of forgiveness when we reform ourselves and come into the presence of God with only our shortcomings to talk about. Feel the peace of God while experiencing the pain of accepting our faults. God forgives us, parting with the grace of God which fills us with food for now and for the way. Amen.
We give thanks to you God for creating us, reforming us and remolding us. As a communion of believers we thank God for the UTC and the various staff, students, council members and church leaders and laity members of churches who work to take this institution forward on a daily basis. We thank you Creator God for the idea which went into the starting of the UTC. We thank you Jesus for challenging generations of teachers, administrators, staff, students and church leaders who have sacrificed their time, resources and ideas for theological education in India. We thank you Holy Spirit for those who have passed on and passed by into a better place. May we be thankful and grateful for what we have got as a gift and a responsibility from God. Amen.
Affirmation of faith (in unison)
We believe in God the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Almighty; from there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
We pray for the UTC and its teaching ministry. Gracious God, help the president, principal, secretary, bishops, council members, teachers, staff and students to get together and work hard to express theology that is useful for people in the church to worship God and get close to God, and for those outside the church to feel attracted and welcomed into the church. May the UTC move forward in togetherness and genuine love. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Merciful God, we pray for church leaders, pastors, lay leaders and church members who are involved with church ministry and working for the benefit of the church and society. Grant strength and eternal hope for them and us to strive hard and go ahead with what we are doing so that we are and become faithful co-workers in God’s kingdom. Fill us with the Holy Spirit and let the Holy Spirit guide us in what we plan and do. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Loving God, we urge you to inspire different people in civil society and the grass roots to stand for justice and peace. Allow us to co-ordinate and network with those who stand for the poor, dalits, women and people from several groups who are oppressed. We also pray for people in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Nigeria and other places who are suffering from terrorism and religious fundamentalism. We also pray for migrants trying to cross into parts of Europe. May humans stop killing humans and groups stop resorting to violence to achieve narrow goals. We pray that the love of God influence people and may people live together in harmony. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Creative and sustaining God, initiate in us the sense of creativity so that we may find solutions where there doesn’t seem to be any. Help us search for new partnerships, friendships, relationships and allow churches to function in one accord so that people and the world at large will see the benefit of a unified church. Let us God come together for common good and with the understanding that the cross of Christ will lead us towards working together under the assuring presence of Christ Jesus, not to fight and go to war but to stand for the poor and the downtrodden. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Our God in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, power and glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Closing hymn: Great is thy faithfulness
Closing prayer and benediction
Gracious God, we seek your guidance and thoughts on how to go about the deliberations that will follow. Jesus Christ, allow us to emphasize our framework for discussions on children, women and poor in society and the church. Holy Spirit, speak to us and put apt words in our minds that what we say may lead to action which seeks justice for all and especially for the least and the last. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever and may God the triune and eternal reality be with the deliberations of the Annual General Meeting. Amen.
(Prepared for AGM held on August 8, 2015 at ERC, UTC.)