By Allison Trussell
EASTOVER—In a service honoring the one-year anniversary of the Emanuel Nine massacre, four United Methodist churches in lower Richland County came together to hear Bishop Jonathan Holston proclaim, “Failure is not an option. … It’s never an option in God’s economy.”
Bluff Road, Lebanon, McLeod and Mill Creek UMCs brought together pastors and congregations for the June 12 service held in Lebanon’s sanctuary.
With the lesson being the feeding of the 5,000, Holston noted that “When we are here (in church), it’s good. When we go out into the community, it’s better.”
When the disciples came under scrutiny, they focused on their limitations and saw a crisis, Holston preached. The disciples responded to Jesus’ order to give the people something to eat with their lack and what they could not do.
“They’ve been imprisoned by practicality and reasonableness,” Holston said. “Think about this: When do we say not enough? When do we allow our mistakes and hurts to limit us?”
While the service was to remember the Emanuel Nine, it occurred the morning of the Orlando shootings at a gay nightclub. If we want a different world, they we must allow God to use us, Holston said.
“A year ago, I was in the Atlanta airport when I heard the news. I waited for my friend, Clementa Pinckney, to address reporters. And then it became personal when I realized that he was a victim. Even in this moment, Jesus Christ is still saying, ‘Failure is not an option.’”
Holston exhorted the congregation to get rid of excuses—“They are reasons not to do (something).”
“When Jesus tells the disciples to bring everything you have, they did and 5,000 were fed. ... What could he do with me, with you, with our church?”
The Revs. Daniel Hembree and Shay Long assisted Holston and the Rev. Cathy Jamieson, Columbia District superintendent, with communion. Hembree, pastor of Bluff Road UMC, read the responsive reading, and Long, pastor of the Mill Creek-McLeod Charge, did the Children’s Time. The Rev. Drew Martin is the pastor of Lebanon UMC.