By Jessica Brodie
Another United Methodist group in South Carolina has officially opened its arms to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The Faith Circle United Methodist Women, at St. Mark United Methodist Church, Seneca, has become a member of the Reconciling Ministries Network, an unofficial caucus of United Methodists who support full inclusion of all God’s children regardless of sexual orientation.
The Faith Circle is the sixth reconciling church or community within this state.
Nell Hodge, circle leader, said their group decided to become a reconciling community as a way to be more Christ-like and offer true Christian hospitality.
“We are a diverse group from many parts of the country with different backgrounds, but the one thing we all have in common is we are part of the Methodist Church, and the Methodist Church says we promise open hearts, open minds and open doors,” Hodge said. “With that, plus the fact that the United Methodist Women logo even states the words ‘faith hope love in action,’ we felt this was a way that we could put love into action.”
As part of its new status, the circle has produced a welcoming statement declaring itself as an open, affirming and reconciling community.
“We welcome all women, including those who have not always been accepted,” the statement reads. “We recognize differences among us but believe that we can love one another even though we may not always think alike. We especially embrace those who have been hurt in the name of Christianity, including persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The way we act toward others is the expression of our belief in God’s love for all His children (Matthew 18:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:18).”
Other reconciling communities in South Carolina include the St. Mark Misfits Sunday School Class, also at St. Mark UMC, Seneca; the Dawsey Sunday School Class and the Grace Sunday School Class at Washington Street UMC, Columbia; Dunean UMC, Greenville; and the Risher Brabham Adult Sunday School Class in Rock Hill.
More than 750 churches, Sunday school classes, campus ministries and other UMC groups have identified themselves as reconciling. For more information on the RMN, visit www.rmnetwork.org.