By Jessica Brodie
Bishop Jonathan Holston and other conference leaders continue their 12-district Bishop’s Forward Focus Tour this month with stops in the Hartsville and Florence districts. This is the third year in a row the bishop has done an intentional statewide tour with stops in every district.
Holston and his team head to the Hartsville District Dec. 3 and the Florence District Dec. 10 to lift up a new “forward focus” process for United Methodist churches to be in ministry with their local community. (See box for other dates and locations.)
Bishop Holston said he is excited about this year’s trips into the districts.
“Under the leadership of district superintendents and Connectional Ministries staff, we are offering churches tools to evaluate their current context for ministry and assess their potential for new opportunities for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Holston said. “I look forward to seeing how God will work through the churches who choose to participate.”
Orangeburg District Superintendent Frederick Yebuah said the tour stop in his district, held Oct. 22, was the most fruitful event among the rest.
“It has opened the door for serious conversation in our church,” Yebuah said, noting it was time well spent and that the bishop was fantastic. “It has given us a better sense of direction.”
Dr. Stephen L. Love, Greenwood District superintendent, said their event Nov. 12 was a huge success, with 50 of their 81 churches across the district in attendance.
“Our churches responded very well to the invitation to follow through with doing whatever it takes to be the best that they can be,” Love said. “We heard Bishop Holston say that ‘if it is important to you, you’ll make it happen. If it is not important to you, you’ll make excuses.’ I am thankful that the attendance and response of the Greenwood District suggest that it is important to us to be vital congregations and we are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.”
Conference Lay Leader Barbara Ware said that so far, they have experienced great crowds and engaging discussions at the BFF events.
“It is exciting to see laity and clergy participating in dialogue that focuses on the life of the local church,” Ware said.
Church pastors are asked to bring five church members with them to the tour and learn about Forward Focus, a voluntary South Carolina-specific plan for church revitalization unique to the individual church. The program was used successfully in the North Georgia Conference (there, called Facing the Mirror), and congregational specialists have worked more than 120 hours to adapt it for UMCs in this state. The process will assist churches in taking a look at who they are and how to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a fast-paced and changing world.
Contact your district office here to register.
Upcoming dates for Bishop’s Forward Focus Tour
All events 9 a.m. to noon. Contact your district office to register.
- Dec. 3—Hartsville District (First UMC, 117 Third St., Cheraw)
- Dec. 10—Florence District (Central UMC, 265 W. Cheves St., Florence)
- Jan. 7—Walterboro District (Shady Grove Family Life Center, 9221 Charleston Hwy., St. George)
- Jan. 14—Spartanburg District (Lyman UMC, 106 Groce Road, Lyman)
- Jan. 21—Anderson District (Clemson UMC, 300 Frontage Rd., Clemson)
- Feb. 4—Greenville District (Buncombe Street UMC, 200 Buncombe St., Greenville)
- Feb. 11—Rock Hill District (Mount Holly UMC, 1996 Mount Holly Rd., Rock Hill)
- Feb. 25—Charleston District (Bethany UMC, 118 W. Third S. St., Summerville)