Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, issued this statement in response to the June 7, 2018, Faith Leaders’ Statement on Family Separation:
“He called a child, whom he put among them, and said…‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.’” – Matthew 18:2,5-6 (NRSV)
During Monday’s Bible Study at the 2018 Annual Conference, Dr. Herbert Marbury taught us about the meaning of the term “little children” in the scripture above. In first-century Palestine, children were among the most vulnerable persons in society.
Today, we hear daily about the plight of immigrant children in our country, and we can only conclude that children at our borders separated from their families are among the most vulnerable persons in our country today. So we must open our ears to hear Jesus’ words, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones…”
My friends, as United Methodists, we are called to be witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ for the world. We are called to love the strangers in our midst as if they were Jesus. In the midst of debate about national policy, Christians have a calling to be a voice for the voiceless and to work to make a difference in the lives of the vulnerable and hurting.
It is my hope that we as United Methodists will focus on sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the world as we act with compassion, advocate for the vulnerable, and work persistently for justice.
Grace and peace,
L. Jonathan Holston