By Allison Trussell
GREENVILLE—With solemnity, the Annual Conference approved the closing of 10 churches June 7, 2017.
The Rev. Joe Long, Rock Hill District superintendent, briefly stood in for the Rev. Cathy Jamieson, Columbia District superintendent, in leading the assembly through the resolutions. Each resolution of closure was voted on separately, and then members and friends of each church were invited to stand for a prayer.
A question was raised about the different wording in some of the resolutions. Chancellor Kay Crowe was called upon and said the wording was largely because of the differences in the 2012 and the 2016 Books of Discipline and the timing of the resolutions.
Cedar Creek UMC, Winnsboro, was declared abandoned. The resolution provided for the continued care and maintenance of the property. Efforts to preserve the property will be made because of its rich history dating back to 1743.
Bethel UMC, Anderson, was declared closed. A final service for its remaining five members was held Jan. 29.
Bethlehem UMC, Anderson, was declared closed as it is no longer being used by its membership as a place of worship.
A prayer for Cedar Creek, Bethel and Bethlehem was said by Rick Hammond, the Spartanburg District lay leader.
Dunean UMC, Greenville, was declared ad-interim closed. The Rev. Rusty Godfrey, pastor of Monaghan, stood to say that the witness of Dunean continues. He led the conference in prayer.
Startex UMC, Startex, was declared closed. Membership and assets were transferred to Loree UMC, Wellford, and the real property was transferred to Grace Kingdom of Dominion Ministries Inc. The Rev. Richard Lewis, a former pastor of the church, offered a prayer.
Trinity UMC, Greenville, was declared ad-interim closed. The church and its property will be adopted by Buncombe Street UMC and be renewed as the Trinity campus of Buncombe Street. The Rev. George Howle, Greenville District superintendent, offered a prayer.
Bath UMC, Bath, was declared closed.
“We ask, God, that you help them go forth and find new ways of ministry,” prayed the Rev. John Williams III, a former pastor of the church.
Gassaway UMC, Saluda, was declared closed.
“We pause to give you thanks for the witness, the discipleships, the new disciples and the seeds that have been sown,” prayed the Rev. Stephen Love, Greenwood District superintendent.
Pleasant View UMC, Cowpens, was declared closed and its membership transferred to Florence Chapel UMC, Wellford. The Rev. Jack Washington asked that the conference be granted “wisdom and courage for the facing of this hour, Lord.”
Timmonsville UMC, Timmonsville, was declared closed and its membership transferred to Salem UMC. Long, a former pastor of the church, offered a prayer: “We thank you for Timmonsville UMC, your witness in that community for many years. … We ask that those influenced by this congregation will continue to be faithful, enriching this world with your love and grace.”
Jamieson added, “Even as we close these churches, we remain hopeful that they will regain new life.”
Charge line changes
Most of the charge line changes were made because of the closure resolutions. Jamieson reminded the conference that the changes are made in an effort to strengthen churches and charges.
In the Anderson District, the Thompson Centennial-Bethlehem Charge was dissolved. Thompson Centennial was attached to Fairfield to form the Thompson Centennial-Fairfield Charge. Bethlehem was closed. Also in Anderson, the Bethel-Homeland Park Charge was dissolved, with Homeland Park becoming a station church and Bethel being closed.
In the Columbia District, Cedar Creek, closed, was removed from the Fairfield Circuit, leaving Bethel and Monticello to continue as that charge.
The Florence District had three changes. The Kingstree East Charge was dissolved, making both Bethel and Asbury station churches. The Mars Bluff Charge was dissolved, allowing Mount Zion and Bowers Chapel to become station churches. The Jerusalem-St. Luke Charge was dissolved, with both churches becoming station churches.
The Greenville District closed Dunean and Trinity and transferred all of Trinity’s assets and property to Buncombe Street UMC.
The Greenwood District had three changes. The conference removed Matthews from the Harris-Matthews Charge and attached it to the Ebenezer-Panola Charge, forming the Ebenezer-Panola-Matthews Charge. Harris becomes a station church.
In the Rock Hill District, both the Church of the Good Shepherd-Trinity Charge and the Fort Lawn-Van Wyck Charge were dissolved. The Church of the Good Shepherd was attached to Van Wyck to form the Church of the Good Shepherd-Van Wyck Charge. Trinity was attached to Fort Lawn to form the Trinity-Fort Lawn Charge.
The Spartanburg District had three changes. Startex, closed, was removed from the Duncan-Startex-Loree Charge, allowing Duncan and Loree to continue as the Duncan-Loree Charge. Pleasant View, closed, was removed from the Spartanburg Parish, and Beaumont and St. Luke were joined to make the Beaumont-St. Luke Charge.