112 churches leave the UMCSC

By Jessica Brodie

GREENVILLE—Annual Conference 2024 has approved the separation of 112 churches across the state that have chosen to leave the denomination over sexuality and other concerns.

That number represents about 13.4 percent of the 836 total churches in the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church from every one of its 12 districts.

On Tuesday afternoon, June 11, 2024, in a moment of gravity and quiet blessing, the body voted overwhelmingly to approve the resolution from the Conference Board of Trustees enabling the churches to separate.

Officially, the action is considered a church “closing,” as the churches are closing as United Methodist churches, though they are expected to remain open either as independent churches or will align with another denomination.

Shannon Bullion, chair of the trustees, said the churches had gone through a conference-authorized Local Church Discernment Process this winter. The process enabled churches to pray, discern and then hold a churchwide vote about leaving the UMC.

The trustees put forward a resolution, signed by the churches wishing to leave, stating that they “find themselves unable to serve the purpose for which they were organized, because issues related to human sexuality have prevented them, in that they cannot accept the actions taken in The United Methodist Church. Thus, the issues of human sexuality have prevented them in their mission to make disciples for the transformation of the world.”

Those “issues related to sexuality” stem from a belief that the denomination had not upheld its previously stated doctrine (per the 2016 Book of Discipline) that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

That language was changed at the most recent General Conference, April 23-May 3, removing the incompatibility language for the newest Book of Discipline.

“We have held high the ethic of ‘first, do no harm,’ and we have held a staunch regard to do due diligence,” Bullion said before the body. “As we prepare to read this resolution and the separating churches, I ask God’s help that God may keep us in unity, constancy and peace.”

The resolution and list of the separating churches are below.

Before the body cast their vote enabling the churches to leave, the Rev. James Friday offered a heartfelt prayer.

“God, we pray that even as we grieve their leaving, that we are still one body, one faith, of one baptism, one God and father of us all, in all and through all,” Friday prayed from the floor.

Annual Conference members were asked to stand if they approved the separation. A long pause occurred as the room honored the churches with their action and their silence.

This year’s number (112) is one church fewer than the number that separated from the denomination last year, in 2023. Last year at Annual Conference, 113 of the 958 churches separated from the denomination, comprising roughly 12 percent of the total.

The names and number of the churches were kept confidential by the trustees until the day of the vote. Just before the lunch break, roughly two hours before the vote, the voting members of the body received the names of the separating churches.

Also Tuesday, Annual Conference approved an aspirational motion that could impact future church separations. The Rev. Paul Wood moved that the body propose to the trustees that it cease using Para. 2549 as the basis of separations after June 2025. The motion passed 455-361.

Two years of separations leave UMCSC down 23.4%

The South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church has experienced two sets of church separations, one in June 2023 and one in June 2024. In June 2023, 113 churches across the state left the denomination over sexuality and other concerns. The 113 churches comprise almost 12 percent of the 958 total UMCs in South Carolina at that time and came from every one of the 12 districts in the conference.

Between last year and the 112 this year, 225 churches altogether left of the 958 starting number of churches, which is a grand total of about 23.4 percent.

The full list of 2023 and 2024 separating churches can be found at

The resolution enabling the separation:

Resolution of the Board of Trustees of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church to ratify and approve the closure of the below listed churches.

The South Carolina Conference has used Para. 2549 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church (2016) to close churches. Many of these churches were closed on an ad-interim basis because of exigent circumstances.

A number of United Methodist churches in South Carolina find themselves unable to serve the purpose for which they were organized, because issues related to human sexuality have prevented them, in that they cannot accept the actions taken in The United Methodist Church. Thus, the issues of human sexuality have prevented them in their mission to make disciples for the transformation of the world.

The Board of Trustees, with understanding of the difficulties of owning, insuring, and maintaining closed church properties, with prayer, consultation, and reflection, guided by input of the Cabinet and conference leadership, developed, and refined a Separation Agreement.

This Separation Agreement required the local church to participate in a discernment process, and once that was completed allowed for a Church Conference vote on separation from The United Methodist Church. The following churches have followed this process, and by votes of at least 2/3 majority have voted to separate from The United Methodist Church. They have signed a Separation Agreement and have placed their payments for separation in escrow.

These churches are now before this body for approval of their closure, pursuant to the terms of the Separation Agreement.

It is the belief of the Board of Trustees that these closures are the best pathway to allow the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church to follow The Book of Discipline and to allow these churches desiring to depart to do so with grace.

Therefore, be it resolved, that pursuant to the authority granted to the Board of Trustees and to this body under 112549.3(b) of The Book of Discipline, as confirmed by the District Superintendents of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, the Cabinet and Bishop Holston, and authorized by vote of this body, be it here approved that the Separation Agreements duly executed by the following churches shall govern the disposition of the property of the below listed churches. The recorded deeds shall be valid to transfer the title to the real property and this document shall be approved by this body as binding on the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Be it here approved that the following United Methodist churches will be closed effective June 30, 2024.

The churches that separated (organized by district):

1.         Donalds, Honea Path (Anderson District)

2.         Gilgal, Due West (Anderson)

3.         Main Street, Abbeville (Anderson)

4.         New Hope, Anderson (Anderson)

5.         Pendleton, Pendleton (Anderson)

6.         Sharon, Abbeville (Anderson)

7.         Shiloh, Due West (Anderson)

8.         Shiloh, Piedmont (Anderson)

9.         Smyrna, Abbeville (Anderson)

10.       Knightsville, Summerville (Charleston)

11.       Lebanon, Ridgeville (Charleston)

12.       Mount Zion, Jamestown (Charleston)

13.       New Hope, Jamestown (Charleston)

14.       New Hope, Summerville (Charleston)

15.       St. James, Jamestown (Charleston)

16.       Bethel, Winnsboro (Columbia)

17.       Beulah, Gilbert (Columbia)

18.       Ebenezer, Elgin (Columbia)

19.       Rehoboth, Columbia (Columbia)

20.       Salem, Elgin (Columbia)

21.       Smyrna, Elgin (Columbia)

22.       Zion, Blythewood (Columbia)

23.       Hebron, Cades (Florence)

24.       Pergamos, Cades (Florence)

25.       Union/Manning, Jordan (Florence)

26.       Bramlett, Gray Court (Greenville)

27.       Green Pond, Gray Court (Greenville)

28.       Northside, Greenville (Greenville)

29.       Bethany, Saluda (Greenwood)

30.       Cambridge, Ninety Six (Greenwood)

31.       Edgefield, Edgefield (Greenwood)

32.       Emory, Saluda (Greenwood)

33.       Harmony, Johnston (Greenwood)

34.       Johnston, Johnston (Greenwood)

35.       Leesville, Leesville (Greenwood)

36.       McKendree, Trenton (Greenwood)

37.       Mount Lebanon, Greenwood (Greenwood)

38.       Mount Pleasant, Pomaria (Greenwood)

39.       Nazareth, Saluda (Greenwood)

40.       New Chapel, Newberry (Greenwood)

41.       St. John’s, Batesburg (Greenwood)

42.       Trenton, Trenton (Greenwood)

43.       Troy, Greenwood (Greenwood)

44.       Wightman, Prosperity (Greenwood)

45.       Zoar, Saluda (Greenwood)

46.       Bethlehem, Hartsville (Hartsville)

47.       Elim, Lamar (Hartsville)

48.       Mount Olivet, Cheraw (Hartsville)

49.       Prospect, Hartsville (Hartsville)

50.       Sandy Grove, Bethune (Hartsville)

51.       Shiloh, Chesterfield (Hartsville)

52.       St. Luke, Hartsville (Hartsville)

53.       Tabernacle, Hartsville (Hartsville)

54.       Trinity, Darlington (Hartsville)

55.       Union, McBee (Hartsville)

56.       Wesley Chapel, Lydia (Hartsville)

57.       Zoar, Chesterfield (Hartsville)

58.       Antioch, Conway (Marion)

59.       Central, Marion (Marion)

60.       Ebenezer/Tatum, Bennettsville (Marion)

61.       First, Myrtle Beach (Marion)

62.       Hopewell, Fork (Marion)

63.       Latta, Latta (Marion)

64.       Macedonia, Mullins (Marion)

65.       Mount Andrew, Latta (Marion)

66.       New El Bethel, Conway (Marion)

67.       New Hope, Wallace (Marion)

68.       Pleasant Hill, Mullins (Marion)

69.       Poplar, Conway (Marion)

70.       Shiloh, Bennettsville (Marion)

71.       Shiloh, Marion (Marion)

72.       St. Paul’s Waccamaw, Pawley’s Island (Marion)

73.       Union, Conway (Marion)

74.       Andrew Chapel, St. Matthews (Orangeburg)

75.       Bethel, Jackson (Orangeburg)

76.       Ebenezer, Bowman (Orangeburg)

77.       Elloree, Elloree (Orangeburg)

78.       Holly Hill, Holly Hill (Orangeburg)

79.       Jericho, Cameron (Orangeburg)

80.       Jerusalem, Elloree (Orangeburg)

81.       New Hope/Rowesville, Branchville (Orangeburg)

82.       St. John, Aiken (Orangeburg)

83.       Wesley Chapel/Calhoun, St. Matthews (Orangeburg)

84.       White House, Bowman (Orangeburg)

85.       Wightman, Bowman (Orangeburg)

86.       Adnah, Rock Hill (Rock Hill)

87.       Antioch, Rock Hill (Rock Hill)

88.       Friendship, Rock Hill (Rock Hill)

89.       Heath Memorial, Rock Hill (Rock Hill)

90.       Kings Mountain Chapel, York (Rock Hill)

91.       Mount Holly, Rock Hill (Rock Hill)

92.       St. Paul, York (Rock Hill)

93.       Enoree, Enoree (Spartanburg)

94.       Gramling, Gramling (Spartanburg)

95.       Landrum, Landrum (Spartanburg)

96.       Mesopotamia, Gaffney (Spartanburg)

97.       Patterson Chapel, Enoree (Spartanburg)

98.       Trinity, Gaffney (Spartanburg)

99.       Bethel, Harleyville (Walterboro)

100.     Bethel, Ruffin (Walterboro)

101.     Duncan Chapel, Harleyville (Walterboro)

102.     Ebenezer, Walterboro (Walterboro)

103.     Ebenezer/Yemassee, Walterboro (Walterboro)

104.     First, Harleyville (Walterboro)

105.     Grover, St. George (Walterboro)

106.     Indian Field, St. George (Walterboro)

107.     Providence, St. George (Walterboro)

108.     Rehoboth, Cottageville (Walterboro)

109.     Salem/Hendersonville, Walterboro (Walterboro)

110.     St. George, St. George (Walterboro)

111.     St. Johns, Ruffin (Walterboro)

112.     Tabor, Ruffin (Walterboro)

Read the full list of separations (2023 and 2024) here

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