Never alone

By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston

“Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take” (Joshua 1:8-9).

As this edition of the Advocate arrives, the 2022 session of the South Carolina Annual Conference will be starting. On June 5 and 6, we will gather virtually for a time of giving thanks to almighty God and celebrating the ways in which we have been seeking and fulfilling God’s purpose for the church.

This year’s theme—“Seeking A More Excellent Way: Trusting, Believing and Knowing God is With Us”— builds on the journey of faith we have taken together over the last ten years as we confidently lean on our Savior, Jesus Christ to guide and direct us. Miraculous things can happen when we leave our place of comfort and allow God to stretch us in new and different ways. We will convene filled with hope, remembering who God has called us to be and what God wants for us.

This year’s Annual Conference will again be held virtually. We made this decision to ensure the safety and good health of all involved, and we look forward to engaging with you virtually as we live into the broadened definition of what it means for God’s people to gather.

We are deeply grateful for the perseverance, innovation and faithfulness exhibited by all clergy and lay members as we have navigated the pandemic-driven challenges over these last two years. We look forward to celebrating the mission and ministry of devoted South Carolina United Methodists who are answering God’s call and taking the next faithful step.

We are delighted to have Bishop Gary Mueller join us as the guest preacher for the Service of Commissioning, Ordination and Retirement Recognition, and our very own Dr. Robin Dease will join us as the preacher for the memorial service.

The hard work of so many people makes this gathering possible. A profound word of gratitude is expressed to the Rev. Terry Fleming and the people and churches of the Florence District, our host district and to the Rev. Josh McClendon and members of Pisgah United Methodist Church, our host church. For many months, this team has worked closely with our conference secretary the Rev. Ken Nelson, assistant conference secretary the Rev. Mel Arant and the Committee on the Annual Conference to consider every detail. I am certain you will join me in saluting the proactive leadership of all of these people who have worked so diligently on our behalf.

As we prepare for the 2022 Annual Conference, I ask for your prayers that great and marvelous things will happen through the Holy Spirit who guides and sustains us. Pray that our presence online will be a living witness to the grace, mercy and love of Jesus Christ for all whom we meet.

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