BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Members of the South Carolina United Methodist Church voted this week in favor of allowing 113 churches in the state – including 11 in the Lowcountry – to leave the denomination.
The churches that are leaving had concerns about the Book of Discipline not being enforced like prohibiting performing same-gender weddings and the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”
The conference said these churches would be “closing” by the end of the month; rather the churches would be transferred to independent church entities and essentially leaving the United Methodist Church affiliation.
Pinopolis United Methodist Church is among that group – they are set to become Pinopolis Community Church beginning July 1.
“I’ve been a member of this church since 1994,” said Gene Kodama, a member of Pinopolis United Methodist Church. “I’ve been participating on what we call an organizational task force which was created to take a look at what was going on with the Methodist Church.”
Kodama said they became concerned about several issues including people in the LGBTQ community being ordained to serve in leadership roles at some United Methodist Churches – primarily on the west coast.
“The United Methodist Church in South Carolina and the South Carolina Conference, they have a book of discipline,” Kodama explained. “Who can be a minister, who cannot be a minister, and the way you conduct your affairs. There were some deviations from that.”
But the churches that are leaving had concerns about the Book of Discipline not being enforced.
“How do you achieve salvation? It’s a relationship with Jesus Christ that you are saved, and then you have salvation. And there were writings out there that said there were other ways to achieve salvation. And our church and others don’t agree with that,” he said.
Pinopolis United Methodist Church and 112 other churches out of more than 900 churches in South Carolina went through the process to leave the denomination. That includes paying a fee to purchase their church land from the denomination.
During the conference held in Florence on Tuesday, members voted to allow those churches to leave the denomination.
“We picked a new name for our church. We’re gonna call it Pinopolis community church,” said Kodama.
Despite the change, Kodama said they still welcome members of the LGBTQ community to their church.
“As far as those with alternative lifestyles, I think that’s one of the terms, we would love to have them here. We’d love to have you here. Everybody’s welcome here. The book of discipline specifically calls that out, that you can’t have leadership roles because of what scripture says about that lifestyle,” he explained.
Those 113 churches will officially separate from the United Methodist Church as of June 30.
Aldersgate in North Charleston will also continue serving its congregation and the community. Church leaders provided the following statement after Tuesday’s decision:
“Aldersgate will be continuing operation and associating with the Global Methodist Church. The operations of Holy City Missions and the Warming Shelter will not be affected. Nothing has changed in serving our community. All programs will be continuing as normal.”