COLUMBIA—Christians can make a big difference in society when they overcome differences and work together. Those that reject attempts at unity, however, risk going against God’s will as seen in Scripture.
That was the central message in a sermon by Bishop Herman R. Yoos of the S.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Jan. 22 at the annual LARCUM prayer service at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia.
The Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Methodist organization and its programs help the four denominations learn more about each other and work for unity.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and Bishop W. Andrew Waldo of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina both attended. The bishops of the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church and Bishop Mark J. Lawrence of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina sent representatives.
Yoos noted the prayer service happened on an election weekend, and said Christians shouldn’t let political differences weaken the common bonds they share as believers in Christ.
“Often Christians misuse the teachings of our Lord as a club to beat someone over the head until they submit to a point of view,” Bishop Yoos said. “We need to admit our need for repentance … when we treat each other badly, it not only hurts us and our neighbors but grieves the very heart of God.”
He said unity could be reached if believers pray for each other and join together in work for a better society.
He noted recent ecumenical events, including one on Dec. 14 on Johns Island when members of different churches joined to help the poor; and a Dec. 19 LARCUM prayer vigil in Charleston.
“His message was magnificent, and the examples he used truly point out there is so much we share as Christians,” Bishop Guglielmone said after the service. “We face so many things that cause disagreement, but in the end we’re all brothers and sisters of Christ … there is so much we can do when we work together.”
The LARCUM bishops held the December prayer vigil as a Charleston federal judge considered the new South Carolina immigration law, S.B. 20, which took effect Jan. 1.
The judge put on hold some controversial aspects of the law, including one that required law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of suspects believed to be in the country illegally, and another that made it a crime to harbor or transport illegal immigrants.
At recent meetings, the LARCUM bishops agreed to focus on working for state immigration laws that are just and fair.
Before parts of S.B. 20 were put on hold, workers for Catholic Charities reported that many Hispanics left the state in fear. They said some Hispanic parents stopped attending Mass and sending their children to school or tutoring sessions because they were afraid of being deported.