Where there is breath, there is hope

By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston

(Photo by Matt Brodie)

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”—Psalm 150:6 (NIV)

The 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference held at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, has concluded. Delegates representing 15 annual conferences across the Southeast met at this 22nd session of the SEJ Conference to elect three new bishops, as well as assign all of our bishops to places of leadership. Felecia and I were honored and humbled to receive our assignment from the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy to continue serving in the South Carolina Conference (Columbia Area). We feel blessed to be assigned “back home again” and to continue our efforts to dream God-sized visions with the laity and clergy across this wonderful state.

Let’s keep working together as we seek a more excellent way in mission and ministry.

As we continue journeying together through the 2022-2023 conference year, we are maintaining confidence by “Trusting, Believing and Knowing that God Is with Us.” In spite of the cacophony of voices that tend to distract us, we are choosing to maintain our focus on our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

We endeavor to help congregations make the best decisions that enable them to make disciples. We do this with intention, with determination and with calm clarity. We do not seek out conflict, but during those times when we can’t avoid it, we seek first to listen before trying to be heard. We seek to understand before trying to be understood.

As people of faith, who profess to follow Jesus Christ, we know that our call is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. With ears open to hearing how God is calling and hearts open to responding to that call, we embrace this opportunity to be a beacon of hope in a hurting world. And in moments when we find ourselves drifting away from our focus, may this question snap us back to the time and space in which God has placed us: When was the last time you led someone to Christ?

As a community of believers, we serve a mighty God who has plans for us—plans to prosper us and not harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. As Christians, we know that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds. As United Methodists, we know that we are still connected through the love, grace and saving power of Jesus Christ.

It is my hope and prayer that God will enable us to truly be persons of faithfulness, courage, integrity and dedication. For as long as we have breath, we also have hope, so let us embrace the challenge that requires us to go to places we do not yet know—places that God will reveal to us as we walk in joyful obedience.

In the meantime, please know that we’re rejoicing in this wonderful opportunity to continue ministry in South Carolina.

So let the journey continue!

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