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Bishop Holston’s statement on immigration ban: ‘Make a difference’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.’”Matthew 25:37-40

Bishop Holston

The pace of change in our society has perhaps never been more rapid than it is today. The recent changes in United States immigration policies have resulted in stories of pain and suffering for families in our nation and around the world. With these rapid changes and the many competing voices speaking about the changes, it can be difficult to sort through all the information coming our way.

As Christians in the midst of chaotic times, we are called to remember who we are and whose we are, and to be witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ for the world. To be faithful in our witness to Jesus Christ, we are called to love the strangers in our midst as if they were Jesus. This is our calling and our mission – even when it feels risky and frightening to do so.

While we recognize that people of faith have different opinions about national policy, I pray that we will take the time to engage in civil, thoughtful, and respectful discussion with those who share our opinions and with those with whom we disagree. It is my hope that in this time of rapid change and an overwhelming deluge of information that we as United Methodists will focus on how we extend the love of Jesus Christ into the world as we act with compassion, advocate for the vulnerable, and work persistently for justice.

Recently, I had the privilege to speak at High Point University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. I concluded my words with this prayer and I commend them to you:

“I pray that, as we leave here, we would take who we are and go out into this world and be who God needs for us to be. Some will find it very comfortable to find those places, and some will be challenged. But if you take one step, that will be the difference in moving toward a place you should be, and getting up from the place where you once were. When you leave this place, be the difference makers in the world.”

Grace and peace,

L. Jonathan Holston

Resident Bishop

South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church


Permanent link to this article: http://www.umcsc.org/home/bishop-holstons-statement-on-immigration-ban-make-a-difference/


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  1. Carl Jordan

    Bishop Holston has been tactful in his criticism of the President’s temporary travel ban on seven countries that are either unstable, failed states, and/or supporters and home bases for terrorists. However, Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the UM Council of Bishops on, January 30, 2017 delivered a rather vicious attack on President Trump’s temporary executive order. Given his talking points, similar articles of outrage quickly followed on other major UMC websites.

    Methodist clergy need to take the safety of American citizens just as seriously as our President. He has the moral and legal responsibility to keep the people of the United States as safe as possible. Sen. Lindsey Graham believes that another 9/11 attack is coming to America. Do you think that what has happened in France and Germany could not happen here? Believing that it cannot happen here is a grave mistake.

    Do we not owe our own citizens a modicum of safety? Do we want to turn America into a failed Germany that has been deliberately flooded with questionable refugees by its leaders? Should we not vet noncitizens properly rather than merely saying we do? In reality there is no reliable data base in their country that would identify refugees who want to come here because they despise our way of life, our Constitution and our democracy. Their holy book commands it.

    Clergy engaging in issues such as immigration and border security undermines the confidence of lay people in the United Methodist Church. Such political action could help explain why the United Methodist Church reported a 2.9 percent decline in weekly worship attendance from 2014 to 2015. This is a loss of 82,313 worshippers, and attendance has fallen for the past 14 years straight.

    We should care about who comes into our country. We should care about the safety of our children and our families. Mindlessly blowing off terrorist threats and potential criminal refugees is a danger that the people of America cannot afford.

    But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm
    and warn the people, he is responsible for their deaths. Ezekiel 33:6

  2. Catherine Cuneo

    Thank you, Bishop Holston, for your encouragement to do the work that needs to be done. Refugees from the Middle East are vetted by the DOD and Homeland Security as well as other agencies. We do not have to choose between being safe and doing ministry with refugees.

  3. Phyllis

    I agree 100% with Kathy Belsky’s comments. Evil does, indeed, exist and we need to be ever mindful of that even as we go about our work of spreading the gospel. This is just a TEMPORARY ban until a better vetting system can be put in place. I was very disappointed in Bishop Ough’s statement regarding the immigration order.

  4. David Bryant

    What an interesting juxtaposition between Bishop Holston’s commentary and the recent damning diatribe of Thomas Kemper, UMC Global Ministries, against those of us who agree with Ms. Belsky and the current administration’s policy. I certainly hope there is room left in the Methodist church for “civil, thoughtful, and respectful discussion”. However; for a church on the brink of conflict and division, Mr. Kemper’s comments appear to be disturbingly combative, inflammatory and divisive. Hopefully, Bishop Houston will be the voice of the UMC… a voice of reason, hope and inclusiveness promoting “open hearts, open minds, open doors”.

  5. James Draffin

    I agree with Kathy and thank her for a great reply.

  6. Kathy Belsky

    While I truly try to take Christ with me everywhere I go and to show his love to all, I am in full agreement with the current administrations position on travel limitations from certain countries. This is a temporary measure that is being done until a better vetting process is in place. Even though we are Christians, we are not immune to the evil that truly exists within the world. And God has given us free will, not to blindly accept evil, but to help prevent it and be mindful of its power.
    “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16

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