Transcript of speech, Mays UMC, Sept 11, 2022

I want to thank Rev. Gerald Clinkscales for allowing me a few minutes to address you, Brother Terry Hawkins for the invitation, and to all of you for allowing me a few minutes of your ears and hearts to deliver a short message of concern and hope.

My name is Bill Kimler. I’m the chair of the Greenwood County Democratic party, candidate for State House in District 13 running against John McCravy. I’m a husband, father of two, step-father to two more. I work in IT for a living. I taught science at high school and college for a few years. I’m a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. My first wife, the mother of our two children, was also an ordained United Methodist pastor who served 3 rural churches in northern Pennsylvania – and when I say rural, I mean towns with more cows than people. So I have a special fondness for and history with the United Methodist Church and feel blessed to be here today with you.

I used to think I was not a political person. “Politics” was for other people to debate with each other on things that have nothing to do with me.

I used to think incorrectly.

As I matured and started to grow out of my own little bubble of worrying about my house, my kids, my job – it became clear how connected we all are. My success depended on the success of strangers. My happiness was enhanced when everybody was happy. My freedoms are only worth something if everyone has those same freedoms. This is the essence of the Good Word, is it not? Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Those who are elected to serve to run the city or town, the schools, the state, our nation – we cannot escape from being impacted by the decisions they make.

South Carolina has for years ranked at the bottom in our nation in critical measurements like healthcare, education, poverty, crime… This isn’t news to you. Those leaders who have been charged with running our state business have the power and opportunity to change this, if only they choose to do so. In 2020 as COVID-19 ravished our nation, and thousands of our friends and family were dying. Then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands.. Not a single one of us here didn’t lose someone to that terrible plague. But instead of coming together and addressing that momentous challenge head-on, some leaders in power decided that Critical Race Theory was a more important issue to tackle than systemic racism. That shifting money from public schools to for-profit institutions was a priority over giving our teacher the resources they need to succeed for our kids. It’s no wonder we’re at the bottom of so many categories. Too many are not focusing on the priorities that matter.

But the good news is, we indeed have the power to change this. There’s an election on November 8 and there are good men and women up and down on the ballot who will not be distracted by invented social issues that divide. Early voting starts on October 25 with 4 locations across Greenwood, including right here at the Ninety Six Visitor’s Center. To participate, you must be registered to vote, so check your registration. Encourage the young ones who are of age to sign up. Talk to family and friends who have moved into the area to register. I will stay after the service to answer any questions and provide more information. 

I leave you with these words: “There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Those words are from 24-year-old Amanda Gorman, a young woman whose words echo a wisdom thousands of years old. 

I encourage you today: Be brave enough to be the light. Thank you and God Bless You.