Non-Episcopal Methodism

views updated

Non-Episcopal Methodism


Apostolic Methodist Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Apostolic Methodist Church was organized in 1932 in Loughman, Florida, by E. H. Crowson and a few others. In 1931, the Reverend Crowson, an elder in the Florida Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, had been located (deposed from the itinerant ministry) for "unacceptability." The new group published a Discipline in which they complained about episcopal authority and the departure of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, from its standards of belief and holiness. The Apostolic Methodists believe in the premillennial return of Jesus, his return to earth to bind Satan before his one-thousand-year reign on earth with his saints. The church emphasizes holiness of a "second blessing" type: after being justified or saved, a person can proceed to be perfected in love and have that ratified by a personal religious experience called the "second blessing." In 1933 F. L. Crowson, the father of E. H. Crowson, was tried by the Florida Conference and suspended. He withdrew and joined his son's new group.

The church operates the Gospel Tract Club at Zephyr Hills, Florida.

Membership: At its peak in the 1960s, the church had only a few congregations and less than 100 members.


Asbury Bible Churches

Box 1021
Dublin, GA 31021

The Asbury Bible Church parallels the John Wesley Fellowship in most ways, but is organizationally separate. Like the John Wesley Fellowship, the Asbury Bible Churches were organized in 1971 by former members of the Southern Methodist Church who withdrew when that church dropped its membership in the American Council of Christian Churches. They follow the same conservative interpretation of Wesleyan doctrine and loose congregational polity and draw on the Francis Asbury Society of Ministers for their pastors. The churches are also members of the American Council of Christian Churches.

Membership: Not reported.


Association of Independent Methodists

405 Marquis St.
Jackson, MS 39206

The Association of Independent Methodists (AIM) was organized in 1965 in Jackson, Mississippi, by former members of the Methodist Church (1939-1968) which, in 1968, merged into the United Methodist Church. The organization rejected the Methodist Church's episcopal polity, the doctrinal liberalism felt to exist in the ecumenical movement of which the Methodist Church was a major supporter, and the neo-evangelicalism in the Sunday school literature, clergy, and church supported colleges and seminaries.

Doctrinally, the church accepts the Twenty-five Articles of Religion of John Wesley common to all Methodists. However, a statement on sanctification and additional articles on the duties of the Christian to the civil authority and the separation of church and state have been added.

Polity is congregational. At each annual meeting, delegates from member churches elect the association's officers including a president, secretary, treasurer, and executive director. They serve with standing committee chairs as an executive committee. The executive committee and representatives from each church constitute a board of directors which meets semi-annually.

The church supports Methodist Missions International (MMI). MMI produces the radio broadcasts for the Methodist Bible Hour. The weekly radio broadcasts are heard on six radio stations throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America. Free Bibles and Bible correspondence courses are offered to the listeners of these radio programs.

Membership: In 2002, the association reported more than 3,500 members in 40 congregations with 60 ministers licensed or ordained by the association. Congregations are located in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Educational Facilities: Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi.

Periodicals: The Independent Methodist Bulletin.

Remarks: AIM was established in 1965 as the Methodist Church was beginning the process of eliminating the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction, and as the South was experiencing the height of the civil rights movement. In the original articles of religion of AIM an article was added supporting the social separation of the races as "neither anti-Christian nor discriminatory." More recently, that article has been deleted.


Constitution of Churches Organized as Independent Methodist Churches by the Association of Independent Methodists. Jackson, MS: Association of Independent Methodists, n.d.

Howard, Ivan J. What Independent Methodists Believe. Jackson, MS: Association of Independent Methodists, n.d.


Church of Daniel's Band

Croll Rd.
Beaverton, MI 48612

The Church of Daniel's Band was formed in 1893 at Marine City, Michigan, as an effort to revive primitive Methodism and continue the class meeting, the regular meeting of small classes for discussion, exhortation, Bible study, prayer, confession, and forgiveness. The doctrine and polity are Methodist with a strong emphasis on evangelism, perfectionism, Christian fellowship, religious liberty, and abstinence from worldly excess. Several articles of faith have been added to the standard twenty-five emphasizing belief in the resurrection and judgment of the dead, divine healing, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Membership: In 1988 there were four churches, approximately 217 members, and eight ministers.


The Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of Daniel's Band. N.p. 1981.


Congregational Methodist Church

Box 9
Florence, MS 39073

The Congregational Methodist Church was formed by a group of lay people led by local preachers who withdrew from the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The group met in the home of Mickleberry Merrit on May 8, 1852, and organized. William Farbough was elected chairman, and Rev. Hiram Pinazee was appointed to draw up a Discipline, which was approved and published soon afterward. This newly organized group had three main points of contention with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South: the itinerant system, as then practiced, which was plagued with large circuits and weekday preaching to empty pews; the churchs neglect of the local preachers who did most of the work with the congregations and received no credit; and the government of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which deprived laymen a voice in church business.

On August 12, 1852, a conference was convened. Except for local church conferences, this conference was the first Methodist conference composed of more laymen than ministers, and the first body of Methodists whose total representation was by election of the local congregations. This difference in government remains one of the distinctive features of the Congregational Methodist Church. Local churches call their own pastors, own their own property, elect delegates each year to the annual conferences, and every two years to the general conference.

The Congregational Methodist Church is conservative in its theology, maintaining the doctrines as espoused by John Wesley. Its Articles of Religion are those Wesley presented for his Methodist Church in America. It was not until 1941–and for the purpose of emphasis and clarification, and to show its conservative stance amid the growing trend of liberalism–that articles on regeneration and sanctification were added. In 1957, articles on tithing, eternal retribution, and the resurrection of the dead were added for the same reasons. Congregational Methodists believe in a literal "heaven" and "hell" and in the premillennial second coming of Christ.

Several schisms have occurred within the church. In the late 1880s, when it was estimated that the church had grown to nearly 20,000 members, a move for a merger with other similar church groups resulted in the loss of an estimated two-thirds of the churches. While most of these churches merged with other groups, some of the churches formed the New Congregational Methodist Church of the U.S.A. In 1982 a group of churches withdrew, opposing the realignment of conferences, and formed the Southern Congregational Methodist Church. Some of the those churches have since returned to the Congregational Methodist Church.

In 1945 a Bible School was begun in Dallas, Texas, and eight years later moved to the campus of the old Westminster College at Tehuacana, Texas, and renamed Westminster College and Bible Institute. In 1972 it was moved to Florence, Mississippi, the headquarters of the denomination, and renamed Wesley College in honor of Methodisms founder. Wesley College is accredited as a four-year college offering both a two-year transferable general education certificate and a bachelors degree for those preparing for the ministry.

The Congregational Methodist Church has a missions program with missionaries in Mexico and among Native Americans. It also sponsors missionaries in Central America, South America, and Africa in cooperation with World Gospel Mission.

Membership: In 2002 the church reported 9,670 members served by 282 clergy.

Educational Facilities: Wesley College, Florence, Mississippi.

Periodicals: Congregational Methodist Messenger. • The Harvester. • The Wesley Connexion.


McDaniel, S. C. The Origin and Early History of the Congregational Methodist Church. Atlanta: Jas. P. Harrison, 1881.

Minutes of the General Conference of the Congregational Methodist Church, 1869-1945. Tehuacana, TX: Westminister College Print Shop, 1960.


Cumberland Methodist Church


The Cumberland Methodist Church withdrew from the Congregational Methodist Church in 1950 because of a disagreement on both polity and doctrine. It was organized at Laager, Grundy County, Tennessee, in the mountainous country near Chattanooga. Membership never reached beyond the several counties in southeastern Tennessee. Since its founder's death, no trace of the existence of the Cumberland Methodist Church has been found.


Evangelical Methodist Church

68385 Gray Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46237

The Evangelical Methodist Church was founded by former members of the Methodist Church led by Dr. J. H. Hamblen of Abilene, Texas. In 1945, Dr. Hamblen began serving an independent congregation in Abilene. Calls from other congregations led to the founding of the Evangelical Methodist Church at a Memphis, Tennessee, conference on May 9, 1946. The main cause of dissatisfaction was the "modernism" that had infiltrated the parent body.

At the first Annual Conference at Kansas City, Missouri, in 1946, Dr. Hamblen was elected the first general superintendent. E. B. Vargas brought the Mexican Evangelistic Mission into the new church as the first mission district. In subsequent sessions Lucian Smith and Ralph Vanderwood were elected to the office of general superintendent.

The church holds a conservative theological perspective and believes very strongly the Articles of Religion of the former Methodist Episcopal Church, South, to which it has added an article on "perfect love." In describing themselves, members say, "The Church is fundamental in belief, premillennial regarding the second coming, missionary in outlook, evangelistic in endeavor, cooperative in spirit, and Wesleyan in doctrine."

Organizationally the Church is congregational yet connectional. It is congregational in that each congregation owns its own property and calls its own pastor. It is connectional in that all member churches agree to abide by the Discipline of the Evangelical Methodist Church. The denomination, as a whole, is governed by the conference system. The General Conference, presided over by the General Superintendents, is the highest legislative body in the church. It meets every four years and oversees the several district conferences, and the local churches.

In cooperation with the World Gospel Mission and the OMS International, the church has sent more than sixty-five missionaries. The church is also affiliated with both the National Association of Evangelicals and the Christian Holiness Partnership.

Membership: Not reported. In 1997 the church had 8,700 members and 119 churches.

Educational Facilities: Approved schools include: Vennard College, University Park, Iowa.

John Wesley College, High Point, North Carolina.
Western Evangelical Seminary, Portland, Oregon.
Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky;
Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky;
Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi.

Periodicals: Evangelical Methodist Bulletin.


Evangelical Methodist Church of America

Box 751
Kingsport, TN 37662

Largest of several fellowships of independent fundamentalist Methodist churches, the Evangelical Methodist Church of America was established in 1952 by dissenting members of the Evangelical Methodist Church. The issues that led to withdrawal centered around a longstanding doctrinal and organizational disagreement between Dr. J. H. Hamblen and Rev. W. W. Breckbill (d. 1974). Reverend Breckbill and his followers did not accept the doctrine of holiness proposed by Dr. Hamblen. There was also conflict over membership in the National Association of Evangelicals.

The withdrawing body, led by Breckbill, established an organization similar to that of the parent body. Membership was established in the fundamentalist American Council of Christian Churches and International Council of Christian Churches, and close working relations were set up with the Southern Methodist Church, the Fundamental Methodist Church, and the Methodist Protestant Church which jointly sponsored Bible Methodist Missions and the International Fellowship of Bible Methodists. Following the withdrawal of the Southern Methodist Church from the American Council of Christian Churches, the Evangelical Methodist Church still has a close working relationship with other separated groups. These are primarily members of the American Council of Christian Churches and the World Council of Bible Believing Churches.

Missions are conducted in Malawi, Argentina, Chile, Jamaica, and Paraguay.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: Breckbill Bible College, Maxmeadows, Virginia.

Periodicals: The Evangelical Methodist.


Discipline. Altoona, PA: Evangelical Methodist Church, 1962.


Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches

Box 43
Glassboro, NJ 08028

The Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches, was founded in 1939 by former members and ministers of the Methodist Protestant Church. As the merger between the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church approached, some 50 delegates and pastors (approximately one-third of the Eastern Conference) withdrew in protest of the union and what they considered the liberal tendencies of those churches. The congregations represented by those delegates reorganized and continued a separate existence as the Bible Protestant Church. In 1985 the group changed its name to the Fellowship of Fundamental Protestant Churches, a signal of the Fundamentalist theological position they had adopted. Congregations are found in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, and Michigan.

As Fundamentalists, the fellowship affirms the infallibility, inerrancy, and literal interpretation of the Bible. It holds to a premillennial theology and a pre-tribulation view of the rapture of the saints. It believes in separation from apostasy and unbelief. The churches hold to two ordinances: baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper. The fellowship is organized congregationally. It owns and operates Tri-State Bible Camp and Conference Center in Montegue, New Jersey, and oversees a mission board, the Fundamental Bible Missions.

The fellowship is a member of the American Council of Christian Churches.

Membership: In 1998 there were 21 churches, 43 ministers, and 1,500 members.

Educational Facilities: Fundamental Bible Institute. Glassboro, NJ.

Periodicals: The Messenger.


Filipino Community Churches

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Filipino Community Churches of Hawaii began when the Rev. N. C. Dizon, a Methodist minister, went to Hawaii after World War I to establish a mission. In 1927 he withdrew from the Methodist church and formed the First Filipino Community Church at Honolulu. In 1957 a congregation was added at Wahiawa, and a congregation in Hilo is informally associated. Joseph H. Dizon became pastor of the headquarters church in Honolulu. Its membership consists almost entirely of Filipino-Americans.

Membership: Not reported.


First Congregational Methodist Church of the U.S.A.

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The First Congregational Methodist Church of the U.S.A. was formed by members of the Congregational Methodist Church who withdrew from that body in 1941. Disagreement had arisen about the addition in 1933 of Articles of Religion on regeneration and sanctification and paragraphs on the duty of pastors' collecting superannuate funds (for retired ministers), ladies' work, youth work, trials of ministers charged with misconduct, and the prohibition of special sessions of the general conference called to reverse action of a regular session. Following eight years of conflict, Rev. J. A. Cook, then president of the General Conference, led a segment of the church to withdraw immediately after the 1941 General Conference, at which a two-thirds majority approved adding the articles and paragraphs in dispute.

The new body adopted the pre-1933 Discipline and followed essentially the polity and doctrine of the parent body.

Membership: Not reported. In 1954 the church had 7,500 members in 100 congregations, all in the South.


Fundamental Methodist Church

1034 N. Broadway
Springfield, MO 65802

The Fundamental Methodist Church was formed by former members of the Methodist Protestant Church who withdrew from the Methodist Church (1939-1968) following the union in 1939. The schism began with John's Chapel Church in Missouri on August 27, 1942, under the leadership of Rev. Roy Keith. Two years later, after having been joined by other congregations, they established an organization.

The church is both congregational and connectional in polity. It is congregational in that the local congregations associate with each other as free and autonomous bodies, and retain the power to hold property and call (appoint) pastors. They are connectional in that their General Conference is the highest legislative body in the church. It is composed of one lay delegate and one minister from each church.

The Fundamental Methodists are fundamentalists theologically. They are members of the American Council of Christian Churches, Bible Methodist Missions, and the International Fellowship of Bible Methodists. They cooperate with other independent fundamentalist Methodist groups in a variety of activities. They are also one of the few Methodist groups to retain the class meeting structure devised by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. He divided the early societies (congregations) into classes of about 12 members and a class leader. The classes met weekly for mutual discussion, exhortation, prayer, confession and forgiveness, Bible study, and growing in grace. Each person tried to bring to the class a penny a week to help the poor. It is said that some early class leaders supplied the penny for the class member who could not afford to make the contribution.

Membership: Not reported. In 1993 there were 12 churches, 22 ministers, and 682 members. The church supports a mission in Matamoros, Mexico.

Periodicals: The Evangelical Methodist.


Keith, Roy, and Carol Willoughby, eds. History and Discipline of the Faith and Practice. Springfield, MO: Fundamental Methodist Church, 1964.


John Wesley Fellowship and the Francis Asbury Society of Ministers

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The John Wesley Fellowship and the Francis Asbury Society of Ministers are two structures formed by former ministers and members of the Southern Methodist Church in 1971 following the Southern Methodist Church's withdrawal from the ultra-fundamentalist American Council of Christian Churches. The John Wesley Fellowship is a loose fellowship of independent congregations, and the Francis Asbury Society of Ministers is an association of pastors. While officially two separate organizations, ministers of the Society serve churches of the Fellowship.

The Society has added to the twenty-five Articles of Religion (printed earlier in this chapter) statements on the Bible as the Word of God (an affirmation not specifically made in the original article on the sufficiency of Scripture), separation from apostasy, and the premillennial return of Jesus. The Guidelines for Independent Methodist Churches, published by Rev. Thomas L. Baird, serves unoffically as a discipline for the congregations. Beyond the Articles of Religion are seventeen statements which make a significant departure from Wesleyan emphases. The statement on the church defines the invisible church as all who are known of Christ, "Whether they have joined the visible church or not." The premillennial return of Christ, segregation of the races, and the impossibility of back sliders to be reclaimed (based on Hebrew 6:4-6) are all affirmed. The church has only white members.

The Francis Asbury Society began publication of the Francis Asbury Society Evangel in 1971. Both the Society and Fellowship cooperate with Bible Methodist Missions organized by the Evangelical Methodist Church of America. Maranath School of Theology, also sponsored by the Evangelical Methodist Church of America, and Bob Jones University are recommended schools. The Society and Fellowship belong to the American Council of Christian Churches.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Francis Asbury Society Bulletin.


Baird, Thomas L., ed. Guidelines for Independent Methodist Churches. Colonial Heights, VA: The Author, 1971.


Methodist Protestant Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The continuing Methodist Protestant Church was formed by ministers and members of the Mississippi Conference of the former Methodist Protestant Church who did not wish to join in the 1939 Methodist merger because of the liberalism of the newly formed church, the Methodist Church (1939-1968). They emphasize the Bible as the literal word of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit subsequent to regeneration (subsequent to being "born again"), and the premillennial return of Jesus Christ. All members of the church are white and believe that racial segregation best serves the interest of both blacks and whites. The church's motto is, "Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints."

The church has congregations in Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, and Ohio, in three conferences. Mission work has been established in Korea and in two locations in British Honduras. A church camp is located at Collins, Mississippi. The Church is a member of the American Council of Christian Churches and the International Council of Christian Churches. It is not a member but cooperates with the Christian Holiness Association.

The government is a representative democracy modeled on the United States government. Equal representation is given laymen in all functions of the church. There are no bishops.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: Whitworth College, Brookhaven, Mississippi.


Missionary Church International

PO Box 1761
Colombia, SC 29202

The Missionary Church International is a fellowship of autonomous churches, ministries, and ministers, most with a Methodist background. The church has prepared itself to charter church and commission ministers, many of the later previously rejected by other churches because of factors not deemed relevant such as age, number of dependent children, the ages of the children, or limitation of support funding. Many of the churches, of a Methodist background, retain the name Missionary Methodist Church (not to be confused with the Missionary Methodist Church of America). Missionary Outreach is the agency associated with the church which provides support and services for missionaries now operating in 31 countries around the world. As churches affiliate, they may retain former denominational or other names or become known as a Missionary Church International or a Missionary Methodist Church.

Among the ministries associated with the church are Mission of Hope Ministries, which operates in Samoa, Narrow Way Riders (a ministry to bikers), and the Jesus Video Project.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: Missionary Church Bible Institute, c/o Bishop Robert Coulter, 2450 E. State Rd. 44, PO Box 163, Shelby-ville, IN 46176.


The Missionary Church of Shelbyville Fellowship of Churches. 11 April 2002.


New Congregational Methodist Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Not a direct schism but related to the Congregational Methodist Church is the New Congregational Methodist Church. It was formed in 1881 by members of the Waresboro Mission and others involved in a rural church consolidation enforced by the Board of Domestic Missions of the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In protest of the consolidation, the group withdrew and formed the new body at Waycross, Georgia, using the constitution of the Congregational Methodist Church as a model. They adopted a loosely connectional system, rejecting particularly the system of annual conference assessments. They also baptized by immersion and allowed foot washing at communion.

An early period of growth was stopped by the death of several leaders and the withdrawal of a number of congregations who joined the Congregational Methodist Church. They have no connections with any ecumenical bodies.

Membership: Not reported.


People's Methodist Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The People's Methodist Church was formed in North Carolina by members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, who did not wish to join the Methodist merger of 1939. (That merger united the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, with the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Protestant Methodist Church.) The People's Methodist Church is conservative and stresses "the second blessing," an experience ratifying one's perfection in holiness.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: John Wesley Bible School, Greensboro, North Carolina.


Reformed New Congregational Church


The Reformed New Congregational Methodist Church was organized in 1916 by the Rev. J. A. Sander and the Rev. Earl Wilcoxen, a minister in the Congregational Methodist Church. A large following was built in southern Illinois and Indiana; however, no data has been located since 1936 when there were eight churches.


Southern Congregational Methodist Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Southern Congregational Methodist Church was founded in 1982 by a group of churches opposed to the new alignment of conferences that had been undertaken by the Congregational Methodist Church.

Membership: Not reported.


Southern Methodist Church

PO Box 39
Orangeburg, SC 29116-0039

The Southern Methodist Church was formed in 1940 by members of several congregations of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, who did not wish to participate in the 1939 merger with the Methodist Episcopal Church. They felt that the Methodist Episcopal Church was apostate and full of heresy and infidelity and also that merger, forming the Methodist Church (1939-1968), would eventuate in a powerful centralized ecclesiastical control.

The withdrawing members, meeting in convocation at Columbia, South Carolina, set up plans to perpetuate what they considered to be the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In attempting to retain local church property and the name "Methodist Episcopal Church, South," the group became the center of a series of landmark court decisions culminating in the mandate of Judge George Bell Timmerman on March 12, 1945. The group lost its case to the merged church, The Methodist Church. The bishops of The Methodist Church were legally established as representatives of the membership of the former Methodist Episcopal Church, South with control over property; and the name "Methodist Episcopal Church, South," was the property of its legal successor, The Methodist Church (now the United Methodist Church). The name Southern Methodist Church was then adopted by the withdrawing group.

The church adopted the Methodist Episcopal Articles of Religion printed earlier in this chapter. The church added statements of belief on prevenient grace (grace is shed abroad in the hearts of all), the witness of the Spirit, Christian perfection, and the evangelization of the world. It has also added statements on the creation account of Genesis, premillennialism, and Satan.

Departing from its episcopal heritage, the new body is congregational in polity. It has four annual conferences and a general conference, but it has dropped the office of district superintendent and replaced the bishop with a quadrennially elected president.

The Southern Methodist Church was a member of both the American Council of Christian Churches and International Council of Christian Churches but withdrew in 1971. Missions are supported in Cameroon, Cyprus, Ethopia, Italy, Mexico, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, England, Belgium, and Philippines.

Membership: In 2001, the church reported 111 congregations in four conferences covering territory from Maryland to Florida to Texas. There were 6,986 members and 180 ministers.

Educational Facilities: Southern Methodist Bible College, Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Periodicals: The Southern Methodist. Send orders to Foundry Press, Orangeburg, SC 29115.


Ballard, Jerry. To the Regions Beyond. Orangeburg, SC: Board of Foreign Missions, Southern Methodist Church, 1970.

The Doctrines and Discipline of the Southern Methodist Church. Orangeburg, SC: Foundry Press, 1970.