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Hopes and concerns: S.C.’s first GC2020 listening session draws crowd

Hopes and concerns: S.C.’s first GC2020 listening session draws crowd
Photo by Dan O’Mara

By Jessica Brodie

ST. GEORGE—What are your hopes for The United Methodist Church? What are your main concerns? What do you want South Carolina delegates attending General Conference 2020 to know?

Nearly 200 United Methodists headed to Indian Field UMC Jan. 5 for the first of several “listening sessions” being held across the state, addressing these questions and more. Another session was held Jan. 26 as the Advocate was going to press, and the next sessions are Feb. 9 in Florence and Feb. 16 in Mauldin.

Jackie Jenkins, chair of the South Carolina delegation, said this first session was a “pacesetter” for all future sessions that will follow.

“We were ecstatic to see the crowded room and pleased at the amiable reception and eagerness to learn and share observed from both laity and clergy attending the first gathering,” Jenkins said, noting attendees’ feedback emphasized trust and hope. “Of equal note and appreciation were everyone’s eminently observed interest in our church’s future. We were indeed fortunate to witness the congenial manner in which business was conducted.”

The Jan. 5 listening session was the first event of several scheduled this winter, all designed to give South Carolina United Methodists the opportunity to voice concerns and share hopes and prayers with the South Carolina delegates to General Conference 2020.

Elected at Annual Conference in June, the eight lay and eight clergy delegates, plus alternates, will head to the UMC’s General Conference May 5-15 in Minneapolis.

General Conference is typically held once every four years (with the exception of the special session in February 2019 to address a report from the Commission on a Way Forward on unity amid church strife over differing views on human sexuality). At General Conference 2020, delegates will discuss and vote on petitions and resolutions proposed by individuals, conferences and other groups within the UMC, from budgetary concerns to issues such as sexuality, abortion, poverty and more. General Conference, comprised of roughly 1,000 representatives from every conference in the worldwide UMC, is the only body that can set official policy and speak for the denomination. Legislation passed at General Conference results in revisions to the Book of Discipline (a book of law) and Book of Resolutions (a book of policies on social issues).

Only General Conference can speak for the UMC.

Jenkins said the South Carolina listening sessions are designed to provide attendees with the opportunity to learn and ask questions about the purpose and function of the General Conference in a safe, respectful environment, and share with the South Carolina delegates any hopes and concerns about the UMC ahead of the conference.

The sessions are not designed to engage in a debate about the issue of human sexuality; tell you or your congregation what to believe or do; encourage delegates to vote one way or another on any particular issue; or compel delegates to share their views on any particular issue.

The listening sessions are led by the lay and clergy heads of the delegation—Jenkins and the Rev. Ken Nelson—as well as delegation members, superintendents from the districts represented in each tri-district and other conference leaders.

Other listening sessions are slated for Feb. 9 at Central UMC, Florence (for Florence, Hartsville and Marion districts); and Feb. 16 at Mauldin UMC, Mauldin (for Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg districts).

On Feb. 23, a live, online and interactive fifth session will be offered at

Another listening session was held just as the Advocate was going to press on this edition: Jan. 26 at Union UMC, Irmo (for Columbia, Greenwood and Rock Hill districts). Look for coverage in the March edition of the Advocate.

Jenkins said at future sessions delegates hope to hear more thinking and feelings of laity and clergy who make up the South Carolina Conference.

“This is critical as we prepare for General Conference 2020,” Jenkins said, noting the laity and clergy in the field were equally interested in hearing from the delegation, too. “It makes a difference.”

She said they also hope to have more delegates in attendance at future listening sessions; four lay and two clergy General Conference delegates were present Jan. 5. The Jan. 5 meeting represented the Charleston, Orangeburg and Walterboro districts, and Jenkins said she was pleased that all three district superintendents were present.

Attendees are invited to submit their questions in advance of the listening sessions so the delegates can prepare their answers.

For more information or to register for a session: A list of resources is also available there, including a comparison of various proposals for the UMC, respectful communication guidelines and basic information about General Conference.


  • This is excellent, I wish we were doing it in South Georgia.

  • Are you people just side stepping what the Bible says about these matters of same sex marriage, homosexuality, etc. If we, UMs, REALLY believe God’s word is the inherent word of God, then why are we bowing to the homosexuals?? We, of course, want to welcome them into the Church but NOT in a role of leadership or as Pastors. I, for one of many, do not want or approve of someone, sinning against God’s word, in the pulpit telling me how to live a Christian life. Nowhere in any of these arguments have I seen either side quote any scripture from Matthew 19; First John 2,; 1st Corinthians 5, 6, 13; 1st Timothy; and Romans 1. Not to mention all references in the Old Testament sayings that same sex is a SIN. I believe all you people in leadership need to revisit your Bible to bring you back to God’s word and act accordingly and stop caving in to those who are forcing what THEY are demanding on those of us who believe in following God’s word.

    • LindaThompson, I could not agree with you MORE. The Bible is the WORD OF GOD, and not to be stretched and twisted in ANY WAY. ti suit ANY AGENDA. I pray each and every day that GOD WILL LEAD THEM ALL BACK TO THE SCRIPTURES in both the NEW AND OLD TESTAMENT. GOD BE WITH US ALL.

  • Thank you for speaking for me. I too believe that the Bible is God’s word! Thanks for the NT scriptures that I too believe is the TRUTH. Bless you for your courage to speak out!

  • To the average person not following this subject, it would seem that human sexuality is the bone of contention. However, with deeper study, one can discover that the basis of the issue is the refusal to adhere the the inerrant, inspired word of God on which the UMC Book of Discipline is based, and to change for the culture to meet their own desires. Declaring from a position of authority that there is doubt to Christ is imperfect is heresy as has been widely spread by the first LGBTQ bishop of the UMC. Culture has had many swings of the pendulum, but God’s word doesn’t change.

  • I am in agreement with the above comments by the 2 ladies named Linda. Why should we cater to 3% of the population? God’s word is our guideline!

  • So many of our siminarys became to very liberal and a new normal was set. Many of our Biships were more consern in keeping the Pulpets full they failed to use the BOD as their guid. If they had done their job we would not have the problems with Gay pastors in the Pulpit. I pray that we are able to let our brothers and sisters that want to leave and live their own life style leave. We are called to love , we are not called to except sin to be preached from our pulpet and leading our children and grandchildren to think they can do anything they want because they are loved and will never have to confess their sin and ask for forgiveness and place Jesus into their hart . He died for the sinner , but he also gave us a outline of how to receive eternity.

  • Agreed. Our situation is less about sex as it is about the many failures of our leadership and believers who in the face choose to ignore sound doctrine.
    2 Timothy 4:3 NIV
    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears what to hear
    Colossians 2:8 NIV
    See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
    Ephesians 6:12,
    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

  • I believe we should follow the teachings in Bible. The Book of Discipline is based on those teachings. Everyone is welcome to worship but if they are not following the teachings of the Bible, should not be in leadership positions in the church. I also don’t think the traditional believers should be the ones to leave the denomination. We should pray for the church and our leaders.

    • Thank you , Frieda.

  • I agree with all the above. Sin is Sin and surely if you believe in the Bible it is God’s word. Why did God make a woman (Eve) for Adam instead of another man?

  • When I read the above posts I think of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns’s poem “To a Louse”
    on Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church
    1786. Below is a portion of the poem.

    “O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion: “
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion!”

    What can we say, but Mrs. Betty Bowers (America’s Best Christian) puts attitudes into perspective with the Conservative Christians’ Creed: “Jesus forgave me for my sins so I could concentrate on yours.”

  • My question would be if this was voted down in the 2019 General Conference session and there is still division within the UMC then why would the proposal on the table for General Conference in May not be the exact opposite of what is being proposed? The proposal is that the “traditionalist” who believe in the Book of Discipline and the word of God have the choice to leave the UMC. If the “progressives” do not believe in the Book of Discipline as it is written then they should be the ones who have the choice to leave the UMC and start their own denomination. I am only 47 years old but I have been a life long United Methodist and I believe in the Book of Discipline as do many others or they wouldn’t be a United Methodist. If I was somewhere I didn’t believe what was being taught then I am free to leave. This proposal is not right!!!! I think of the other life long United Methodist who have believed the Book of Discipline their entire lives that are in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who will be asked to leave if this proposal is voted in favor of. The proposal should be if you don’t believe in the Book of Discipline as it is written then you have the choice to leave! I will end with saying the devil is real and we are letting him in to even be discussing this. He wants to separate us. That is his job!

  • I’ve seen the totally unnecessary separation and division within the SBC, the Presbyterian and Lutheran churches over the “political“ separation of organizations and congregations based on erroneous “theology“ arguments. It’s so sad to see these divisions among the older and more influential members of churches when younger and more thoughtful and wiser generations see the folly of this division of Christians over something that biblical scholars say are erroneous biblical interpretations. A wise UMC pastor of more than 30 years and a very knowledgeable bible scholar puts the scriptures into perspective. “At the heart of the claim that the Bible is clear “that homosexuality is forbidden by God” is poor biblical scholarship and a cultural bias read into the Bible. The Bible says nothing about “homosexuality” as an innate dimension of personality. Sexual orientation was not understood in biblical times. There are references in the Bible to same-gender sexual behavior, and all of them are undeniably negative. But what is condemned in these passages is the violence, idolatry and exploitation related to the behavior, not the same-gender nature of the behavior. There are references in the Bible to different-gender sexual behavior that are just as condemning for the same reasons. But no one claims that the condemnation is because the behavior was between a man and a woman.

    There was no word in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek for “homosexual” or “homosexuality.” These words were invented near the end of the 19th century when psychoanalysts began to discover and understand sexuality as an essential part of the human personality in all of its diversity. Consequently, it cannot be claimed that the Bible says anything at all about it. The writers of the Bible had neither the understanding of it nor the language for it.

    There is only one reference to sexual behavior between women, and that is in Romans 1:26. The context of this reference has to do with Gentiles rejecting the true God to pursue false gods; i.e., idolatry. And, the sexual behavior described is orgiastic, not that of a loving, mutual, caring, committed relationship. What is condemned is the worship of false gods.” It’s so unfortunate that there cannot be unity of the carrying out the Christ’s desire in Matt. 25. Christ comes every day in the guise of the least of these and he desires each of his followers to love their neighbors even though God created them differently than us self righteous heterosexuals.

     If we are so intent on carrying out the literal interpretations of a few of the hundreds of versions of the scriptures, then we women are in for a real shock! 

    Oh! How about slavery? Also, How did the BOD become amended in 1972 to discriminate against others created by God who were gay? Women were only allowed to have church leadership roles in the late 60s when the UEB were merged into the UMC. How about the Central Jurisdiction?
    Hopefully with age comes wisdom, but it’s not assured.

    • Lee I see you making comments to people who are concerned about our denomination. We as a whole believe the Bible to be true. If you believe the Bible has untrue statements, then the whole Bible is false. These people have a right to their opinion who are you to say they are wrong. God said for man and woman to multiply not man and man or woman and woman. You quote scripture so .look at 1 Corinthians 6 9 – 11. We are being lead by false teachers about this matter of homosexuality. Everyone can be forgiven of our sins but we are to turn away from what we were doing. It has nothing to do with looking at someone else’s sins, as you quote from Mrs. Betty Bowers. You have the right to your opinion but all the rest of us have a right to our opinion also. Lee have a great day but I hope this proposal gets voted down. Love in Christ.

    • You need to study the scriptures more because you are obviously misunderstanding what is written

  • As a wise man observed “the history, complexities and actual words of the Bible can’t be ignored just to line it up with what people want to believe, based simply on what friends and family and ministers tell them. Nowhere in the Gospels or Acts of Epistles or Apocalypses does the New Testament say it is the inerrant word of God. It couldn’t—the people who authored each section had no idea they were composing the Christian Bible, and they were long dead before what they wrote was voted by members of political and theological committees (the Council of Carthage in AD 397) to be the New Testament.The Bible is a very human book. It was written, assembled, copied and translated by people. That explains the flaws, the contradictions, and the theological disagreements in its pages. Once that is understood, it is possible to find out which parts of the Bible were not in the earliest Greek manuscripts, which are the bad translations, and what one book says in comparison to another, and then try to discern the message for yourself. You do know that there are more than 200 English versions of the Bible.
    I know they and you’re concerned about a denomination but that wasn’t the concern of the Christ. For so many it’s just church business.

  • Lee, what’s your take on Sodom and Gomorrah ? Why were these two cities destroyed ? I’m sorry you don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God ! ( factual and true )

  • Bruce you wouldn’t believe it even if I told you. If you really want to know, try googling it and see what credible Old Testament and/or Jewish scholars say about it, but you’d probably not even believe them.

  • Lee you are right. I believe what the Bible says. Why do you quote the Bible if you don’t believe in it or what it says ?

  • Bruce you know not whereof you speak. .
    You may want to consider “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mark 12:30. KJV
    As a spiritual advisor and fruit inspector, 3 out of 4 may be acceptable for you. I’m also a certified humor consultant and you need a little humor brother.

  • Not all spiritual advisors follow the Bible. I think you don’t know what to say so you quote certain scriptures for an answer. By the way you still didn’t answer my question about Sodom and Gomorrah. I want to know what YOU believe happened. We know what the Bible says. God Bless waiting for your reply

  • Doug, I see you don’t like my reply. Please explain your thoughts on this matter. As I said I believe the Bible to be factual and true. We all can be forgiven of our sins, we all are sinners. Trying to dance around that homosexuality is not a sin is like saying cussing, murder, etc is not a sin. Please remember I am not judging anyone, this is how I interpret what I read in the Bible. God Bless and waiting for your reply.

  • Common sense dictates that we leave our church as it is and do not bow to the homosexuals.
    Homosexuals have taken advantage of the racial issue as well as women’s lib to promote their own idea that LGBTQ members were born that way…..People of color, women, and different ethnic groups cannot control their circumstances. It is vastly different with homosexuals…..they choose to identify as being discriminated against, but they have a choice to change if they desire.
    Biologists Colin M. Wright, evolutionary biologist at Penn State, and Emma N. Hilton, developmental biologist at the University of Manchester, say this “in humans, reproductive anatomy is unambiguously male or female at birth more than 99.9% of the time…No third type of sex cell exists in humans, and therefore there is no sex spectrum or additional sexes beyond male and female. Sex is binary.” Being LGBTQ is a CHOICE and not a condition. Until the 1960s 70% of adults of all races were married. Children thrived in traditional families. Now it is our children who are the most vulnerable.

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