By Allison Trussell
GREENVILLE—The mood of Annual Conference turned somber during the last morning session as the Rev. Cathy Jamieson, Columbia District superintendent, led delegates through the final resolutions of church closures.
“Church closures don’t always mean something awful or something bad,” Jamieson said, noting that last year the conference closed Trinity United Methodist Church, Greenville, and now it is part of the thriving ministry of Buncombe Street UMC. “Members are transferred to other churches, so the seeds of faith are transplanted and bloom elsewhere.”
As each of the churches were named, those who served the church, were members of the church or were affected by the church were asked to stand.
Four resolutions were approved as a group because they were ad interim closures, and the conference needed to merely agree to what the Cabinet had already done. Those four churches were Berea UMC, Cordesville, closed Sept. 8, 2017; Bethel UMC, Greenville, closed Sept. 8, 2017; Central UMC, Rowesville, closed May 18, 2018; and Zoar UMC, Sumter, closed Jan. 5, 2018.
“We pray for the ministry that was part of these communities, the pastors, the parishioners. … May we never forget and hold them in our hearts,” Bishop Jonathan Holston prayed.
A resolution declaring closure of St. James UMC, Columbia, was approved. The church will close effective June 28. The resolution also asked that the Conference Board of Trustees consider “transferring the property for nominal consideration to Jubilee Academy, a Christian Montessori School, the current tenant, who has been in the facility for four years.”
“Bless the witnesses, bless now those who were a part of St. James, the families that called it home, where spirits were revived and brought into being. We remember St. James and will never forget,” Holston offered in prayer.
A resolution declaring the closure of Andrews Chapel UMC, Latta, was approved. Closure is effective as of June 7. Marion District Superintendent the Rev. Tim Rogers offered a prayer: “Gracious and loving God, we give you thanks for the people and ministry that has been Andrews Chapel through the years. We are grateful for the ways you’ve share your ministry with the community of Latta. … We pray for those who have moved to new churches and ask your blessing on their sister church, St. Phillips, who has accepted so many members as they join for a stronger service to you.”
Esperanza Mission was also recognized. Because it never incorporated as a church and was a mission of Berea Friendship UMC, no resolution was needed to close it. The Rev. Emily Sutton offered a prayer in Spanish and English, giving thanks for God’s hope, grace and love. “We pray for those who have been served and those who have served.”
The following charge line changes were also approved:
In the Anderson District, Grace, Williamson, was added to Pelzer, forming the Grace-Pelzer Charge; and Zion, Easley, was added to Liberty to form the Liberty-Zion Charge.
Charleston District closed Berea, effective Sept. 8, 2017.
Columbia District closed St. James with action taken by the conference.
In the Florence District, the Tabernacle-Dawsey Charge was dissolved, making each of the churches a station church; and Zoar was closed, effective Jan. 5, 2018.
In Greenville District, Esperanza Mission Church was removed from the Berea Friendship-Esperanza charge, making Berea Friendship a station church and Esperanza closed. Monaghan was added to Brandon to form the Monaghan-Brandon Charge; and Bethel was an ad-interim closure Sept. 8, 2017.
The Marion District had multiple changes. The Latta Charge was dissolved, closing Andrews Chapel and making St. Phillips a station church. Centenary-Central Charge was dissolved, making the two churches station churches. The Center-Nichols-Tranquil Charge was dissolved, making Nichols a station church and forming the Center-Tranquil Charge. Level Green was removed from the Bennettsville Circuit. Ebenezer and Aaron Temple will continue as the Bennettsville Charge. Level Green was added to Asbury and Old Clio to form the Bennettsville Circuit.
In the Orangeburg District, the Rowesville Parish was dissolved, making Mayes Chapel a station church and closing Central, Rowesville, effective May 18, 2018. A name change was also made: Bethel, Pelion, has changed its name to Bethel, Peachtree Rock.
In the Rock Hill District, Lynnwood was added to Grace to form the Grace-Lynnwood Charge.
In the Spartanburg District, the Beaumont-St. Luke Charge was dissolved, making each church a station church.