Bishop’s District Days continue with stops in Florence, Greenville

By Jessica Brodie

South Carolina’s resident bishop continues making his way across the state this month as he travels to each district in the annual conference bringing wisdom on “Strengthening Your Soul to Lead.”

After the first district day in the Greenwood District Nov. 18, Bishop L. Jonathan Holston headed to the Florence District Dec. 2 and the Greenville District Dec. 9, lifting up a message about what it takes to strengthen a church through its clergy and lay leaders.

Holston will head to the Charleston District Jan. 20, then to Rock Hill and Hartsville in February (Feb. 3 and 10, respectively).

His message is based on “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry,” the book by Dr. Ruth Haley Barton

At the Florence District Day Dec. 2, Holston reminded those gathered that the church was not built for our pleasure but God’s purpose.

“We have gathered here today to refortify ourselves for the work God has called us uniquely to do,” Holston told the crowd. “When you engage leadership, you’re engaging people from different perspectives, who have different opportunities, they’ve seen life in a different way. And so as they have come to see life, they’re using all their experiences. When we use all of our experiences together we are becoming stronger not weaker .... This is what we are doing when we are engaging and developing our leaders.”

Held at Central United Methodist Church, Florence, the event urged laity and clergy in churches to work together to be strong and effective.

Tables gathered to discuss and then come up with answers to three questions:

1) With expectations of pastors at a high level, the danger is for them to get burned out. What can Jethro’s suggestion to Moses in Exodus 18:17-23 (to delegate work to others) do for pastors?

2) How can leadership be shared between laity and clergy?

3) What hinders sharing leadership between lay and clergy?

The gathering closed with a Service of Communion.

The Greenville District Day, held at Lee Road UMC, Taylors, Dec. 9, covered much the same. Holston asked the crowd whether they were open to being utilized by the Lord in kingdom work.

“Are we in a place where we are open to hear God’s Word through Jesus the Christ, and to know that as we are in this Advent season, that we are prepared to be the people whom God has called us to be, that we are not here to just to placate each other, but we’re here to see what God wants us to do, to see where God wants us to be?” he asked.

He said that as the denomination walks through the process it is in, we must remember we’re going to still live in the same communities, shop at the same grocery stores and eat in the same restaurants. 

“I want us to remember that we are still the people of God,” Holston urged. ”And if we are the people of God, then there is still work for us to do, still people to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with, still people who need to hear a word of faith and hope and love and grace and mercy.”

See for future district days and their locations, as well as to register.

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