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Pastors of two large S.C. UMCs send letters to congregation in support of current UMC stance on sexuality

Pastors of two large S.C. UMCs send letters to congregation in support of current UMC stance on sexuality
Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

By Jessica Brodie

This fall, the senior pastors of two of South Carolina’s largest United Methodist churches have sent letters to their congregations about the upcoming special session of General Conference.

The Rev. Jeff Kersey, senior pastor of Mount Horeb UMC, Lexington, and the Rev. Jody Flowers, senior pastor of Chapin UMC, Chapin, shared their thoughts about the divisions in the denomination over sexuality and clarified their position in support of the current language in the Book of Discipline that states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

In addition to detailing the three plans developed by the Commission on a Way Forward that will be considered at the 2019 General Conference, both pastors noted their church councils had passed resolutions affirming the traditional stance of the UMC. Flowers said the Chapin UMC Church Council voted unanimously Sept. 18 to affirm a resolution supporting the current stance of the UMC, and Kersey said on July 15, the Mount Horeb Administrative Council endorsed a resolution that supports The Traditional Plan and the traditional biblical definition of marriage.


‘Heart burdened with concern’

In his three-page letter, Flowers noted that heart of the crisis is the UMC’s struggle over differences related to human sexuality—more specifically, the practice of homosexuality. The UMC currently supports the rights and sacred worth of all persons regardless of sexual orientation, Flowers said. But because some people do not agree that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, “There have been efforts to change the church’s ‘incompatible’ language at every General Conference since 1976; each of those efforts has failed.”

Flowers said his heart is burdened with concern for the UMC.

“The UMC in America is in crisis, and will more-than-likely face major restructuring in the coming years,” he wrote. “These ongoing discussions and debates have splintered (and some would add, have stalled) the United Methodist denomination in America. We are distracted and divided. We need a definitive decision so that we can move forward, regaining our focus on our mission to ‘make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.’”

Flowers listed the three plans developed by the Commission on a Way Forward that will be considered at the 2019 General Conference (see article, Page 1) then urged his church to join him in three actions: Pray our way forward, love our way forward and trust God to continue to move us forward.

Flowers said what may or may not happen in February must not impact the good work being done for God’s Kingdom that is happening in Chapin now and after General Conference.

“We will simply continue to do in the future what we have done in the past,” Flowers said. “We will continue to invite all, welcome all, love all, and preach the glorious, life-giving, life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ to all.”

He closed by noting, “John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, once said: ‘Offer them Christ!’ That’s what we at Chapin UMC will continue to do, regardless of what is decided in St. Louis, because that’s what faithful churches do. And that’s why we can confidently trust God to move us forward, as we pray and as we love, rejoicing in the goodness of our God every step of the way!”

(See the full text of Flowers’ letter here.)


Controversy, love and sin

In his two-page letter, Kersey also detailed the three plans and the upcoming special session of General Conference.

“This is a controversial topic in our culture and in the church,” Kersey wrote. “We want to be clear with you that love is at the center of our beliefs at Mount Horeb. Our desire is not to condemn or condone but rather convert everyone to a living and transforming faith in Jesus Christ. We fully believe God’s grace is available for all people and all people are of sacred worth.”

Kersey said all people have practices or problems in our Christian life that are incompatible with Biblical Christian teaching, “But we also believe people are not incompatible with God’s grace and love. We are all sinners and would be lost without the grace of God. Therefore, all people will always be welcomed at Mount Horeb.”

“As your senior pastor, I want you to know I am openly supporting The Traditional Model and what I believe is a clear biblical definition that marriage is between a man and woman,” Kersey also wrote, noting this definition of marriage is not a new position for Mount Horeb.

“It is also important to understand the issue of human sexuality/homosexuality is not the only issue at stake,” he wrote. “There are many differences between orthodox traditional Christian theology and progressive Christian theology. These include but are not limited to: the understanding of who God is and His nature, the authority of scripture, the understanding of sin, redemption and the need for transformation by Jesus.”

Kersey closed by urging people to join him on a church-wide prayer team to pray for the future of the denomination and God’s preferred future for Mount Horeb.

(See the full text of Kersey’s letter here.)




  • I received a copy of Jody’s letter and was very disappointed with his statements and perspective. I wonder if he knows how many individuals in his church and community are gay or have relatives who are gay. It’s so sad. Below is a comment by Carolyn with my response to the MB church wishing to withdraw from the UMC.
    “Carolyn November 16, 2018 10:00:18 am
    Jesus did speak VERY clearly about divorce!! Are we Methodists going to exclude divorced members because they are continuing to live in adultery if the remarry? That would be three fourth of our congregation. I have visited a church who had a percentage of gay members and I found it to be the most loving, welcoming and caring church I have ever had the privilege of attending. Didn’t Jesus say the most important thing is LOVE for one another. When are we going to realize that it is impossible to change our sexual orientation as much as it is to change our eye color or physical features. It is biologically impossible. Are we to condemn them for this??


    Lee Johns November 16, 2018 11:19:16 am
    Your observation about a church with gays in membership/attendance is so accurate. I was visiting the church in which our younger son and daughter in law sing in their choir and it was one of the most wonderful experiences where I really felt the spirit of Christ. There were the very rich, those of much less wealth, the handicap, and a number of gay individuals and couples. If the Christ be lifted up all manner of mankind shall be drawn… It’s so unfortunate that the hate and discrimination against those different than us, is so prevalent in “Christian” churches. It’s so unfortunate that the leadership in UMCs in Chapin, Lexington, N. Trenholm (Columbia) and Christ United in Myrtle Beach submitted the resolution at the AC and further stoked the division and hate for those who were born differently than them/us! It’s “church business” in its fullest rather than a discerning, loving spirit of the Christ being understood and applied. Open hearts, open minds, open doors! Oops!”

  • John Shore puts this issue into focus if you believe that the quadrilateral is a rational approach.

    “Once upon a time the right-wing Christian’s typical response to homosexuality was that gay people are just messed up straight people who need to become better Christians so that God can stop them from being gay.

    The final and complete failure of the “pray away the gay” movement, however, in conjunction with endless evidence that people are simply born gay, has succeeded in finally tossing that hoary argument onto the ash heap of history. But has that stopped right-wing Christians from arguing against homosexuality? Of course not. To them, it only meant they needed a better–or at least a new–argument.

    And it didn’t take them long to find one. Today the Christian argument against gay people is typically … well, this, taken from an email recently sent me:

    Would you support a serial adulterer who leaves his wife, but is just attracted to other women, because that’s who he is and how he was born? How about an alcoholic who just can’t help himself? Would you support him as he leaves his wife for alcohol? Would you support a glutton? A man of extreme pride? Why does homosexuality get a pass, and not any other sin?

    A person with homosexual desires who resists temptation is exactly the same as a married man who resists temptation to carry on affairs with other women—which is to say, a human being battling the temptation to sin. The most compassionate thing that we could tell someone struggling with homosexuality (or any other sin for that matter) is to keep resisting temptation. Keep battling. Don’t give in. This is your badge as a Christian, that you fight temptation.

    Now, you see, the argument is that a gay person struggling against the temptation to be who they really are is no different from anyone else struggling to resist a “sinful” temptation.

    Now, in other words, the refrain isn’t that gay people should stop being gay. Now it’s that they should stop acting gay.

    Right-wing evangelicals are positively enamored of this new argument. You whisper “gay” into the ear of a sleeping evangelical, and there’s an excellent chance that he or she will start murmuring in their sleep, “Just like any other sinful temptation. We’re all sinners. Must resist temptation.”

    And putting your brain to sleep before you say that is the very best way to say it, too. Because it’s an argument that could only make sense to a brain-dead person. It’s just too lame for words.

    But lemme try to find some words anyway.

    Virtually all sins share a crucial, defining, common quality. Because that quality, which is present in every other imaginable sin, is utterly absent from being or acting gay, insisting upon putting homosexuality into the same category as every other sin—or in the category of sin at all—is like gluing wings on a pig, and insisting that the result belongs in the category of “bird.” It doesn’t. It can’t. It won’t. Ever.

    Here is that Big Difference between homosexuality and all those other activities generally understood to be “sinful”: There is no sin I can commit that, by virtue of my having committed it, renders me incapable of loving or being loved. I can commit murder. I can steal. I can rob. I can rape. I can molest children. I can do any terrible thing at all, and no one would ever claim that intrinsic to the condition that gave rise to my doing that terrible thing is that I am, by nature, unqualified for giving or receiving love.

    No one tells the chronic drinker, glutton, adulterer, gambler, or any other kind of sinner that having committed their sin—that being the way they are—means they must stop experiencing love.

    Yet living without love is exactly what anti-gay Christians insist upon for gay people.

    When you tell a gay person to “resist” being gay, what you are really telling them—what you really mean—is for them to be celibate. It’s okay for them to be gay, you’re saying–they just can’t live out their gayness.

    What you mean is that you want them to condemn themselves to a life absolutely devoid of the kind of the romantic, long-term, emotionally and physically intimate love that all people, Christians included, understand not only as their birthright, but as just about the greatest part of being human.

    Be alone, you’re demanding. Live alone. Don’t hold anyone’s hand. Don’t snuggle on your couch with anyone. Don’t cuddle up with anyone at night before you fall asleep. Don’t have anyone at your table to chat with over coffee in the morning.

    Don’t have or raise children.

    Don’t get married. Live your whole life without knowing that joy, that sharing, that fulfillment.

    Be alone.

    Live alone.

    Die alone.

    The “sinful temptation” that Christians are forever urging LGBT people to resist is love.

    You know. That thing Jesus lived and died for.

    (And, I do want to say this: I don’t think that every Christian who believes that being gay is a sin is an evil or malignant person. I think they’ve been taught an aberrant version of Christianity, is all. Not that that’s not, God knows, a lot. But, you know: Who among us didn’t grow up learning all kinds of destructively wrong things about other people, and even–and even perhaps most especially–about ourselves?)“


  • I’m an elder of the Church…and if I remember correctly , It was Adam & Eve not Adam & Steve…Ask yourself this question and answer yourself with honesty , Why did God himself destroy Sodom and Gomorrah ? I feel so sorry for leaders of the UMC that feel they must make a decision that goes against Gods Values…I believe God loves each and everyone of his children…I also believe God will turn away from those that continue in sin…Sin is one thing that will never change…If it were a sin 2000 years ago and it was a sin yesterday , it will absolutely be a sin today…Wake Up Church Leaders…The only way sin can be forgiven is by God himself…and if you remember correctly , Jesus said , Go and sin no more…


    • PHILIP you seem to be in a copy and paste mode. You may want to acquaint yourself with the reality that almost 2% of the infants born today are intersex which means they are neither male nor female as indicated by their genitalia. God created them and you may want to become aware that gays didn’t just decide to be gay. If you believe that it’s just a choice, then when did you choose brother?

  • Ministers like them and the Christ church at Myrtle Beach will seek to divide United Methodist no matter their rationale or discipline book.They should maybe look to becoming evangelicals or something similar to that mentality. The Methodist church has always been inclusive and non-judgmental on war,women’s issues,,and many other social issues. This is how Christ has led us since the beginning and will to continue to be our Master

    • Harry you’re so correct. We’ve seen Southern Baptists split starting in the 1970s, the Presbyterians, the Lutherans and other denominations go through these divisions caused by conservative “evangelicals” whose political persuasions and their pursuits of church business priorities cause so much damage to the love of the Christ. It’s so sad as it causes so much hurt to those that Christ loves – the least… So many UMC members are ignorant of the denomination’s own history. The merger with the EUB in 1968 resulting in significant, positive changes for women and the establishment of the Central Jurisdiction in 1939 which put African-Americans “in their place”. These show how far the UMC has come – hopefully an awareness of the significant changes in the church and society would give a perspective of overcoming the divisions established by prior church leaders but continue to be propelled by the church leaders cited above. No where in the NT does it proclaim to be inerrant nor does Jesus concern himself or preach about “homosexuals” (which only came into the lexicon in the mid 19th century) nor about abortion.

  • I find the remarks of the two Methodist ministers to be disappointing to say the least. I have done research on the science, biblical and theological scholarship and find their references to Wesley and the Bible unjustified. Among the leading biblical scholars that I studied even the more conservative said that the biblical authors never conceived of a loving relationship between persons of the sane sex. To say that we love all gay people so long as they do not act on their love for each other is to say we love you only so far as you accept our view of what it means to be a loving, human being.

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