Thoughts and Comments


The following was originally posted on the website of the South Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church on January 3, 2013.

The Book of Discipline's statement on Homosexuality

A recent Advocate article concerning one of our congregations offers an opportunity to clarify what The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (2012 edition) says about human sexuality. It is clear in its stance. While affirming that all persons are people of sacred worth and that God’s Grace is available to all, the United Methodist Church (UMC) does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers it not compatible with Christian teaching (¶161f). Furthermore, we are reminded that the leaders in our congregations be persons of Christian character, discipline, commitment, as well as loyal to the ethical standards of the UMC as set forth in our Social Principles (¶244.3). It is obvious that the discussion concerning homosexuality is one of our more divisive issues. It captivates our attention and dominates our conversations as well as making it difficult to focus on the mission and ministry of the church. As we seek to live together in Christian community, let us always remember that God calls us to be in a faithful ministry with all persons through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,
L. Jonathan Holston


LaShelia Mack
January 5, 2013 at 8:42 am

Thank you for the clarification; it is much needed during the times in which we live. Clarification of the United Methodist stance on abortion should also be clarified.

Emily Cooper
January 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Thank you, Bishop Holston. The part of your statement I love best is, “God calls us to be in a faithful ministry WITH ALL persons through the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” with the emphasis on “all” and “with” being mine. I am blessed to be a member of the Grace Class at Washington Street and what a remarkable, caring community of Christians it is – one that focuses on the mission and the ministry of the church!

Nancy McWhorter
January 6, 2013 at 9:59 pm

As a former member of a Reconciling church, (Foundry UMC in Washington, D.C.,) I wish all church members understood how many of us straight people see the Reconciling statement as a sort of “Good Housekeeping Stamp of Approval” when searching for a church. It brings in lots of new members who have thought of Christians as only the Pat Robertsons and Franklin Grahams of the world and are happy to finally find a church that welcomes ALL of God’s children. Congratulations to Dunean UMC–and to the Grace Sunday School Class at Washington Street UMC. I look forward to the day that this exclusive language in the Book of Discipline is removed.

Rev. Thomas A. Summers
January 8, 2013 at 10:43 am

Profound understanding is increasing by leaps and bounds in our midst about the deep heart-hungers that all persons–gay or straight–have for companionship, partnership and love. Regretfully, our United Methodist Church has yet to more fully incorporate that perspective into its policies on human sexuality. It is my guess that historians will perceive the courageous Dunean UMC as having been the congregational pioneer and spiritual trailblazer in South Carolina United Methodism for championing the cause of religious inclusivity for every last one of God’s children. Thanks be to Bishop Holston for his comment on “faithful ministry with all persons through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Farrell Cox
January 9, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Thank you for the recent comments you have made on the homosexual issue. We have not had this recently. We were in hot water on this issue with a possible church split. In His service, Farrell Cox

Rev. Warren Ashmore, retired
January 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

While I appreciate our Bishop's comments that the discussion of the Gay Issue should not be an obstacle to the mission and ministry of the church, I can only believe that “mission and ministry” will be hampered by the United Methodist Churches statement on this issue. It is, for me, like saying to the “unsaved”…when you get your life in line with our view of the Christian life, you will be fully welcomed in our church. Those who “don’t understand” are probably those who have never gotten to know a gay person and the great pain that this “simple” language causes for them.

January 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

The above statement seems contradictory to “open minds, open hearts, open doors”. It fills my heart with sadness to think my church would make a stand against a group like that, especially with everything the Episcopal Church is currently experiencing in our state.

February 3, 2013 at 10:30 am

As a gay Christian, it has been a lifelong struggle for me to find reconciliation between my love for Jesus Christ and my sexuality; by no means did I choose this lifestyle (I would never have chosen it, trust me), and I spent years asking God to change me. All He ever said was “No, I love you just like you are.” So, I quit trying to change myself and started trying to find ways to serve him.

I have served as pianist and choir director for several churches over the last 10 years, and at no time did my private life interfere with my work for God. Being gay is just a tiny piece of me – being a Christian and wanting to worship my Creator in Heaven for all eternity is the biggest part of me, that part that I want the world to see.

If you can’t agree with this, then please just pray that God will guide people like me and mold us to be in HIS will, not the will of men. God bless!

Charles T. Jennings
February 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

One wonders aloud why the church living in the shadow and footsteps of John Wesley and always in the forefront on history’s major social issues, is so far out of step on this critical issue. The Discipline is just the discipline, but the very lives of all of God’s children have to be more important than this excluding rhetoric.

© 2013 The South Carolina United Methodist Conference.

L. Jonathan Holston has been the resident bishop of the South Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church since September 1, 2012. Coming to South Carolina from the North Georgia Conference, Holston served as senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Atlanta for seven years before his episcopal election. Prior to that, he served as superintendent of the Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District (1997-2005), associate director of the North Georgia Conference Council on Ministries (1992-1997), senior pastor of Clifton UMC(1986-1992) and senior pastor of Marietta Street UMC (1983-1986). Holston earned his Master of Divinity in biblical studies from The Interdenominational Theological Center, Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta.