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A Pastoral Letter To South Carolina United Methodists

Bishop Jonathon Holston

Bishop Jonathon Holston

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During this past week, United Methodists around the nation gathered in five jurisdictional conferences to elect new episcopal leaders.  The Western Jurisdiction yesterday elected Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, a self-avowed, practicing homosexual, to the episcopacy.  The South Central Jurisdiction was still in session when this occurred and has asked the Judicial Council to rule on this election.  The Council of Bishops has issued a statement regarding this election that you can read in full below.

At the beginning of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, the Southeastern College of Bishops issued a pastoral letter that included these words:

“We the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishop’s grieve over the deep divisions in our beloved United Methodist Church.   We recognize the pain felt both by those advocating for and those opposing change. We also view the acts of nonconformity as a violation of our covenant and as divisive and disruptive. As a College of Bishops, we are fully committed to keeping the promises we made at our ordinations and consecrations, including:

• shepherding all persons committed to our care;

• leading our areas in mission, witness and service;

• ordering the church, including administering processes for handling complaints about violations of our Book of Discipline that occur within our episcopal areas;

• and seeking unity in Christ, including the work the General Conference  requested the Council of Bishops do in relation to the Commission on Human Sexuality.

We invite you to join us in prayer as we strive to faithfully and compassionately fulfill our covenant with God, the church and one another. We also encourage you to stay the course in your covenant relationship with God, The United Methodist Church and each other.”

As United Methodists in South Carolina and around the world move into an uncertain future, I ask you to continue in prayer for Bishops, Judicial Council members and others giving leadership at this critical time.  I encourage you to be leaders in compassionate listening, gentle speech, and prayerful discernment as you engage your communities in the faithful and life-giving ministry of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  Let us remember that God is with us in the midst of our deep divisions and will guide and direct us into a preferred future as we earnestly seek God’s will for God’s church going forward.

Grace and Peace.

L. Jonathan Holston

Read the Council of Bishop’s statement here.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.umcsc.org/home/a-pastoral-letter-to-south-carolina-united-methodists/


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  1. Lynne Tyner

    I came to the website this morning to offer a piece of agape for you Bishop but as i opened the page I read message I am led to also say Yes, we join in your prayer requests. I too have been taught that often the discomfort we find ourselves in is a means of pruning our tree for a better fruit. I pray that as deeply as these cuts are being made we are going to come forth in the Spring with a beautiful tree full of fruit.

    My agape I came to give was to one celebrate with you the joy you share in the election of Rev. Sharma Lewis to Bishop. Not so much for women’s advocacy but for the Spirit that so fills her and the gifts she will bring to the table. Also, I celebrate with many of us in the Rock Hill District that you will lead us in this conference forward faithfully in mission.

    In the name of Christ I offer my prayers and service,
    Lynne Tyner

  2. Wayne H.

    Dear Bishop Holston and Judicial Council Members,

    As a Christian and as one who loves the United Methodist Church, I would implore you to hold fast to the doctrines that John Wesley set as the foundation for all UMC members. As the Founding Father of what was the United Society, Rev. Wesley’s goal was to establish a Godly based and Christ centered group of leaders that held fast to the biblical principles that set us apart from the world and its ungodly (and even satanic) influence. While we should and dare I say must, extend the hand of love and kindness to al, including those practicing homosexuality, we must also uphold the biblical and doctrinal truths of the Wesley Book of Discipline which requires a set standard of living by example for church leaders. Once we dismiss or disregard the tenets of Scripture and doctrine, our faith, our worship, and our ministering are all in vain. To love the sinner is our duty, but to preach against sin and to call all to repentance and reconciliation is our ministry, as Paul wrote in his epistles. Again, I implore you to stay the course of the Gospel truth without exemption and without exception, for this is the supreme will of God and His Christ – that at the Name and redeeming word of Jesus, every knee should bow.

    I Humbly Thank You In Jesus’ Name and For His Sake,

    W. W. H.

  3. K.Tilley

    Our faith is basic. We believe in God and his word, the Bible.How can someone that believes in God’ s word can openly practice homosexuality? Not only do they believe it is ok to become a Bishop in our United Methodist Church but it is acceptable to be a leader and mentor to our youth and future generations as well! How can our United Methodist Church accept this? Afterall, homosexuality is a feeling NOT an identity, and considered a sin like all others.I will pray for Bishop Karen AND our United Methodist Church that we stand firm in our faith and God’ s word!

  4. Arthur Holt

    Perhaps it would be wise for the Church to work on a plan for peaceful division because that is where we are headed. It was a sad necessity in 1844 and it might be so today. Perhaps in another 95 years the Church can work out a plan of reunification – as we did in 1939. But for now, the choice is clear: will we surgically and peacefully divide or just blow apart?

  5. Elizabeth Talley

    This is so wrong. This is not God’s teaching. Read Ephesians 5 V 5-7. Read Romans 2 18-32 . It plainly says these people have been turned over to a reprobate mind. I think if you believe in God & his word this would not have happened. I think this will split the Church. I can’t support this. I hope all Christians will stand up . You can publish the way I feel & I pray to God that others will too. Sincerely, Elizabeth Talley

  6. Beth Ramsey

    I am deeply grieved at this decision. I think it will cause a great divide. I think it will ultimately be a stumbling block to some people as a whole. It may please a small portion of folks but will cause some to rethink the covenant statement in our discipline. I know change can be good but at what cost. My prayers will be that we all could stay the course and pray that God will guide us.

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