By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“This is God’s word on the subject: As soon as Babylon’s 70 years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”—Jeremiah 29:10-11 The Message
As you receive this edition of the Advocate, delegates from across our state are gathering for a time of Christian conferencing and celebration. Our annual conference theme, “A Future with Hope,” continues our faith journey in seeking a more excellent way to make disciples of Jesus Christ and transform the world.
In celebrating the culmination of this past year of ministry, we have an opportunity to look to the future with enthusiasm about the ways God will continue to use us in the communities across our state and around the world to make disciples.
In our gathering, I believe Annual Conference is a time to reinforce our identity as a community of faith, mission and ministry. I also believe that we are a people who love God, seek to do God’s will and love and cherish each other, as well as treat others with dignity and honesty.
The state motto for South Carolina is simply “While I breathe, I hope.” It is my expectation and hope that our Annual Conference will be a glorious time of celebration where the graciousness of God and the generosity of God’s people called United Methodist will be experienced in excellent ways.
As we breathe a collective breath together, it is my hope that we will stay in conversation with one another, focus on the things that unite us and remain steadfast in our mission to walk together toward a future with hope.
I offer this prayer for our time of Christian conferencing and celebration: “Gracious and loving God, we give thanks for your presence in our lives and the promise that you have plans for us to prosper and not to be harmed. Continue your good work in our families and our lives. Help us to understand how we can make a difference—in our church, in our community and in our world—as your instruments of hope. Amen.”