See below for questions and answers you may have about theology, human sexuality, the interpretation of scripture and the future of our church.
1) What is the current state of the United Methodist Church?
The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968. When the UMC was formed, there were 11 million members in the United States. Today, there are only 6,268,310 in the United States and 13 million worldwide. While U.S. membership has steadily declined over the past half century, membership in Africa and Asia is growing.
2) What happens if we vote to disaffiliate?
There are several options for disaffiliation from the UMC, two of which are addressed in the UMC Book of Discipline. If we disaffiliate, we can choose to join other traditional denominations such as the Global Methodist Church, the Free Methodist Church, or choose to be an independent church.
3) Is a denominational change something new to Buncombe Street United Methodist Church (BSUMC)?
Our church has been in existence since 1834, however, we have only been a part of the United Methodist Church since 1968. Over the years there have been several denominational changes and the church not only survived, but thrived. Change can be a chance for unification and revival within our congregation. Of greater concern to us are the theological changes that are occurring in the United Methodist Church.
Timeline of our church
1834 – Buncombe Street United Methodist Church was founded as the Greenville Methodist Episcopal Church
1873 – A new church building dedicated in the location where we worship today
1873 – The name of the church changed to Buncombe Street Methodist Episcopal Church, South
1939 – The name of the church changed to Buncombe Street Methodist
1968 – The name of the church changed to Buncombe Street United Methodist Church
2017 – The former Trinity United Methodist Church was adopted and became a campus of Buncombe Street United Methodist Church
4) Why can’t we all just stay together in the United Methodist Church and respect each other’s theological differences?
Disagreements on the authority of the Bible, interpretation of the Bible, and the interpretation of scripture illustrate how deep the divide in the UMC has become. Both sides (traditionalists and non-traditionalist) believe their understanding of the Bible is correct.
As our fellow Methodists from Trinity on the Hill in Georgia said, “separating into two expressions of faith is both a beginning and an end for both traditionalists and non-traditionalist – an end to conflict and uncertainty, and the beginning of vibrant denominations that can focus time and resources on missions and ministries instead of focusing on the conflicts that divide us.”
5) If non-traditionalists don’t agree with the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline, why do they get to keep the name “United Methodist Church”?
It is counterintuitive that the traditionalists are “leaving” the United Methodist Church when they believe in the current Book of Discipline. Traditionalists feel they aren’t leaving, but rather the church is leaving them. Methodism is our expression of Christian faith, but we are no longer “united.” The goal was never about winning or taking over the UMC.
The traditionalists’ goal has always been to create a vibrant evangelical Wesleyan church that is fully focused on mission and ministry, and not a church mired in a bureaucracy, dysfunction, and divisiveness. Trusting God’s grace and committing to doing his will leads to a faithful and fruitful future.
6) Who is Friends to Preserve Buncombe Street and what is the reason for this website?
Friends to Preserve Buncombe Street (FTPBS) is comprised of lay leaders and members of Buncombe Street United Methodist Church who love their church and are alarmed by the changes occurring in the United Methodist Church. FTPBS members hold traditional values. We are working to maintain our Methodist heritage by educating and mobilizing our congregation.
Our charge is to prevent the doctrinal changes occurring in the United Methodist Church from occurring at Buncombe Street. The group is not private or secret; in fact, the names of the members are listed below. We feel called to speak openly and honestly about the divide within the United Methodist Church. We have created this website to provide:
- Theological and institutional differences within the United Methodist church
- Urgency to take action and why
- Options moving forward
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Ongoing reference material
Friends to Preserve Buncombe Street:
|Rob and Joye Davis|
|Jerold (Jerry) House|
|Joan and Nicholas Burkhardt|
|Anna and Logan Green|
|Lynn & Melissa Solesbee|
|Eric and Jane Spadavecchia|
|Sara & Michael Cornish|
|Cindy Jeffcoat Larsen|
|Luke and Lisa Langner|
|Gloria & Bob Griffin|
|Louis & Kim Redmond|
|Victoria and Bill Blaker|
|Steve & Jeanette Roberts|
|Paul Landers, Jr.|
|Judy and Fred Suggs|
|Dawn & Tom Layne|
|Ken & Anne Branham|
|Nancy Orders Smith|
|Stephen and Faye Shaughnessy|
|Julie and Ross Turner|
|Rick & Tina Hogan|
|Dana Gantt Moore|
|Oby and Debbie Lyles|
|Rob and Angie Gage|
|Mary Jo Fox|
|Wallace Fridy, Jr|
|Mickey & Laurie Smith|
|Kelley and AJ Norris|
|Rachel and Josh Malpass|
|Katie and Steven Barber|
|Han and Jane Lukker|
|Kyle and Dawn Brown|
|Mike and Robin Cornish|
|Leslie and Ben Owens|
|Tom & Julie Buchanan|
|Michael and Ashley Douglas|
|Sean and Leigh Turner|
|Craig and Ginger Stratton|
|Edward and Leigh Heidtman|
|Laura Lynn and William Luce|
|Kimberly and Wes Few|
|Andrew and Mandy Bullock|
|Harriet and Clarence Bauknight|
|Rebecca and Paul Harrison|
|Jeff and Julie Wilson|
|Brenda and Tommy Young|
|Danny and Telisa Moyd|
|Mike and Kim Morris|
|Dale and Jennifer Heflin|
|Jim and Allison Warren|
|Scott and Anna Thompson|
|C. Brock Bauknight Jr|
|Miller Gaffney Thomas|
7) Is human sexuality the main issue of debate?
While human sexuality is the issue receiving the most public attention and debate, it is not the root issue. It is a symptom of a deeper divide about theological and institutional issues.
The Book of Discipline has remained constant for decades. However, non-traditional Methodists, both individuals and groups, have submitted legislative petitions calling for the removal of language concerning human sexuality.
FTPBS believes in the authority of the Bible, supports the Traditional Christian view and desires to maintain the Methodist Book of Discipline.
It is also important to understand the issue of human sexuality/homosexuality is not the only issue at stake. There are many differences between orthodox traditional Christian theology and progressive Christian theology. These include but are not limited to: the understanding of who God is and His nature, the authority of scripture, the understanding of sin, redemption and the need for transformation by Jesus.”
Rev. Jeff Kersey
Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church, Columbia, SC
8) What are the core theological issues that divide the United Methodist Church?
The theological division that we face as a denomination is rooted in our differing beliefs regarding the authority of the Bible, incompatible interpretations of the Bible and the divinity of Jesus Christ. We believe that these and other differences in beliefs are, unfortunately, irreconcilable.
We are in a fight for the faith delivered once for all. Today, The United Methodist Church (and the Methodist movement as a whole) is wrestling with whether it will rediscover, recognize, and reclaim its roots at the heart of this faith. The time of theological toleration saturated with moral indifference is past. The reality before us is of a diseased Christianity that we must counter by rediscovering radical allegiance to Christ, recognizing the reality of the battle we are in, and reclaiming core Christian orthodoxy.”
Bishop of the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church
9) What are some of the differences between the United Methodist Church and the Global Methodist Church?
10) What does scripture say about these issues?
The wide range of disagreements about the theology, human sexuality and the interpretation of scripture illustrate how deep the divide in the UMC has become. Both sides (traditionalists and non-traditionalists) believe that their understanding of the Bible is correct. Separating into two expressions of faith is both a beginning and an end for both traditionalists and non-traditionalists—an end to conflict and uncertainty, and the beginning of vibrant denominations that can focus time and resources on missions and ministries instead of focusing on the conflicts that divide us.
We need to be a united community of faith. This can best be accomplished with an agreement on common theology and leadership that supports this theology.
Please join us in prayerfully considering how important each belief is in your faith walk. Read Scripture related to each belief/topic about current practices in the UMC. Ask questions; talk with a spiritual mentor, a member of our clergy, your Sunday School class, your Bible study group, a member of the Friends to Preserve Buncombe Street, and the Way Forward Task Force.
Click to view the full scriptural reference chart
SOURCE: Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church, Augusta, Georgia
11) Why the urgency to take action and what is the FTPBS plan?
The opportunity for our members to have a voice in the future of our church and its theological beliefs hinges on a formal request that will be made to the SC Annual Conference by February 2023. FTPBS believes a decision of this magnitude deserves sufficient time for education and discernment so that the members of our church can openly explore the theological differences within the United Methodist Church, discern where our clergy members stand, and determine our path for the future. We do not want our future to be decided for us. It’s critical we meet key dates to have a voice in our church’s future.
It’s critical we meet several key dates noted below to have a voice in our church’s future.
|KEY DATES||ACTIONS REQUIRED|
|April 2022||A period of education and discernment of the issues begins|
|Fall 2022||Congregation vote on whether or not to disaffiliate|
|December 2022||Request for inclusion on SC Annual Conference agenda prepared|
|February 2023||Formal request made for inclusion on SC Annual Conference agenda|
|June 2023||Request to disaffiliate presented to SC Annual Conference|
|June 2023||Delegates vote to accept or deny request to disaffiliate (simple majority)|
|December 31, 2023||Current provision to disaffiliate expires|
The UMC continues to be in crisis, and is now facing major restructuring. Ongoing discussions and debates have splintered (and some would add, have stymied) the United Methodist denomination in America. We are distracted and deeply divided. We desperately need a definitive decision so that we can move forward, regaining our focus on our mission to ‘make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Rev. Jody Flowers
Chapin United Methodist Church, Chapin, SC
12) What is our vision for the future?
The vision for our church going forward involves many things, the most important of which is the homogeneity of our congregation’s belief of the sanctity of the Bible. We want to continue to grow in the love of God and build upon the church’s one foundation, which is Jesus Christ Our Lord. We want to continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As a fourth generation Methodist I am excited by a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit where I see God doing a new thing! God is creating a church rooted in Scripture and the love of Jesus, and he is calling us to participate with him.”
Dr. Bob Hayes
Transitional Leadership Council Member
Bishop in Residence at The Woodlands United Methodist Church, Woodlands, Texas
13) What are the most frequently asked questions?
Click here for questions and answers you may have about theology, human sexuality, the interpretation of scripture and the future of our church
14) What references are available for further education and discernment?
Click here for convenient and helpful references to assist you in your study of the issues.
15) Why did Friends to Preserve Buncombe Street (FTPBS) create a petition to call for a vote to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church?
While news of turmoil within the United Methodist Church may be a surprise to some, a division has been building for years. Although human sexuality is the issue that has received the most press and attention, this is just one of many deep, theological divisions within the United Methodist Church.
We know of many United Methodist churches that have been openly discussing the differences in theology to determine their path for the future. Some have already voted on whether or not disaffiliate from the United Methodist Conference.
The Friends to Preserve Buncombe Street share traditional values and believe that Buncombe Street should disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church. Like other traditionalists, we are trying to maintain our Methodist heritage, not change or reinterpret the doctrines.
When a 2019 UMC survey asked what the primary focus of the United Methodist Church should be, 68% of self-identified non-traditionalists chose “advocating for social justice to transform the world.” Of the traditionalists, 70% picked “saving souls for Jesus Christ.” In the same survey when asked about salvation, half of self-identified non-traditionalist believe “there are ways to salvation that do not involve Jesus.” By contrast, 86% of traditionalists believe “The only way to salvation is through a relationship with Jesus.” When asked about Jesus, 38% of non-traditionalist believe “Jesus committed sins like other people.”
It is vital for our church members to have the facts about conflicting issues within the United Methodist church. We called for the vote so Buncombe Street can openly explore the theological differences within the United Methodist Church, discern where our clergy members stand, and so our congregation can determine our path for the future. We believe this decision should be made by the church members instead of it being decided for us.
16) Contact us with questions