COLUMBIA—Christians will come closer to true unity if they commit themselves to lives of service and spreading the message of the Gospel.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone offered that message to a crowd of more than 100 people at the 16th annual Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Methodist prayer service Jan. 23 at Shandon United Methodist Church.
The event kicked off the Week of Christian Unity. Other religious leaders who attended were: Bishop Mark J. Lawrence of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor of the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church, Bishop W. Andrew Waldo of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, and Bishop Herman R. Yoos of the S.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Since 1995, LARCUM programs have helped members of the four denominations learn more about each other’s beliefs and work for greater unity.
Bishop Guglielmone reflected on Isaiah 56:6-10 that says God’s favor will come to those who free the oppressed, feed the hungry, and give to the poor and homeless.
John 12:23-26 focuses on the image of a grain of wheat that does not fulfill its true purpose until it dies and becomes a fruitful plant. In the same way, the bishop said Christians do not reach their full potential until they learn to give of themselves.
“Where would our world be without people throughout the ages who gave their lives for Christ?” he asked. “Only through service do we truly become Christians.”
Bishop Guglielmone said the success of ecumenical efforts such as LARCUM also depends on Christians who are willing to take an unselfish look at their own faith and then reach out to share and talk with others.
He said ecumenism suffers when people focus too much on the problems and concerns of their own denomination.
“Look at all the things that have been done in our state in the spirit of cooperation, and so much more is possible if we continue to dialogue in faith and respect,” he said.
The five bishops signed copies of the LARCUM covenant, which reinforces their commitment to further cooperation.