- Bible Methodist Connection of Churches
The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches was organized in
1968as a secession group from the merger of the Wesleyan Methodistsand the Pilgrim Holiness Church. The connection has 3 conferences; the Heartland Conference (formerly the Ohio Conference), Alabama Conference, and Great Lakes Conference. A conference assembly is held yearly with a General Conference assembly that meets every 4th year to shape church doctrine and polity.
Bible Methodist Church Doctrinal Statement
The doctrine and purpose of the Bible Methodist Church is to proclaim scriptural holiness. It is our persuasion that God's people should be a holy people, having an impact on their world through Godly lives, enabled by the power of daily Spirit-filled living, that brings total victory and deliverance.
*We believe that the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) contains all things necessary to salvation, fully inerrant, infallible and fully inspired by God in their original manuscripts and are superior to all human authority.
*We believe in the Holy Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. In this unity of the Godhead here are these three persons of one substance, power, and eternity.
*We believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He is the sacrifice for the original and actual sins of men to reconcile us to God.
*We believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day. He ascended into Heaven and there sitteth with the Father until He returns to judge all men in the Last Day.
*We believe in the Holy Spirit as the office worker of God and Father and God the Son. He is the very presence, majesty and glory of the eternal God.
*We believe in the free will of man.
*We believe in the twofold nature of sin.
*We believe that one is saved by grace through faith.
*We believe that good works are an evidence of active faith.
*We believe in Justification by faith.
*We believe in Entire Sanctification by faith.
*We believe in the ordination of the Sacraments; Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
*We believe in the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the final Judgment of mankind.
"Written in 1995 by Dr. Phillip Brown, Professor, God's Bible School and CollegeIntroduction"
On June 6, 1967, representatives of twenty-eight Wesleyan Methodist churches met at Camp Eden, Alabama, to organize themselves into The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. The thesis developed here is that Bible Methodism is essentially Wesleyan Methodism renamed. The reasons for the Bible Methodist secession parallel in many respects those of the Wesleyan Methodists in their secession from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1843.
Several issues which were crucial in the formation of Bible Methodism clearly emerge from this period: 1) the question of merger, first with the Free Methodist Church, and then with the Pilgrim Holiness Church, 2) the continued strengthening of the General Conference’s authority over the Annual Conferences, and 3) the growing concern over “worldliness,” viz., the use of the Television, dress standards, and the wedding ring.
The stated reasons for secession from the Wesleyan Methodist Church differ among the conferences which seceded. The Ohio Conference was the first conference to withdraw. Rev. Edsel Trouten, the leader and spokesman for the Ohio group, was adamantly opposed to the purposeful shift within Wesleyan Methodism toward a more centralized church government. “The primary issue was never standards [worldliness] ; it was always government.”
E. R. Trouten was trained at God’s Bible School (GBS) in Cincinnati, Ohio. While Trouten was at GBS, a non-denominational holiness Bible college, the book which most profoundly affected his understanding of
ecclesiologywas The Doctrine of the Church in these Times by Chester Tulga, a Conservative Baptist fundamentalist. Trouten authored The Manifesto and Constitution of the Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism which served as a rallying point for both the conservatives within the Ohio Conference and the Alabama Conference. This Manifesto primarily focuses upon the opposition of the conservatives to “the relentless move to a centralized and arbitrary character of government, that in our own historical context was considered to be justifiable grounds for separation from the parent body.” The stated purpose of the Manifesto was the creation of a society within the Wesleyan Methodist Church for the preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism. It was not originally intended to be a statement of withdrawal. Once formed, the Society resurrected the original organ of Wesleyan Methodism, The True Wesleyan, as a means to call the Wesleyan Methodist Church back to its roots.
Approximately six months after the creation of this society, dialogue with Leslie D. Wilcox, the Ohio Annual Conference President, revealed that the differences between the purpose of the newly formed society and the direction of the Wesleyan Methodist Church were irreconcilable. On June 7, 1966, the pastors of the Society who were withdrawing from the Wesleyan-Methodist Church met with the Ohio Conference trustees to discuss the settlement of the church property problem. Trouten comments, “These men worked fairly and equitably with all the withdrawing churches.” On June 9th the society adopted the name Wesleyan Connection of Churches and ratified a revised edition of the Wesleyan Methodist constitution which Trouten had edited.
The Alabama Conference waited until its official Annual Conference in 1967 to withdraw from the WMC. The issues cited in “A Brief History of The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches,” a prologue to the Minutes of the First Annual Conference of Bible Methodist Connection of Churches, were “(1) The wearing of the wedding band by members of the church; (2) TV ownership and viewing by ministers and laymen;” (3) “Worldly trends which were making inroads into our area college [Central College] ;” (4) Opposition “to any connection whatever with the National Council of Churches;” (5) Opposition “to the increasing trend toward centralized government in the General Church [WMC] .” “These issues, however, climaxed in the issue of church merger.” The approval of union with the Pilgrim Holiness Church by the 1966 Wesleyan Methodist General Conference was the spark that lit the powder keg.
In 1968, while the Pilgrim Holiness Church and the Wesleyan Methodist Church were merging, the Ohio Wesleyan Connection of Churches was meeting with the Alabama Bible Methodists to see if a union of these two like-minded groups could be effected. Eighteen months later, in May, 1970, the First General Conference of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches met on the campus of God’s Bible School to officially unite these two groups as the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches with a total membership of 794 persons.
The official Declaration of Purpose reads as follows:
*Recognizing from past histories of holiness bodies that a decline in emphasis upon personal holiness seems to coincide with the increase of emphasis upon organization, centralization of authority and the machinery of church life, the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches wishes to state that the whole and sole cause and purpose of this connection of churches is to spread scriptural (second blessing) holiness over the lands, building up a holy and separated people for the first resurrection.
Bible Methodism today
Bible Methodism began with 794 members in 36 churches. In 1993 total membership was 534, in 1994 the total membership was 578, and in 1995 the total membership was 623.
Currently the Presidents of three major colleges of the
Conservative Holiness Movement, Hobe Sound Bible College, God’s Bible School, and Union Bible College, are all members of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. There is a renewed emphasis on the necessity of educational preparation for the ministry. Young men are actively being recruited to serve in pioneer works with in Bible Methodism.
Elementary and Secondary Christian education has a significant role in Bible Methodism. As of 1995, six Christian day schools are owned and operated by the Bible Methodists.
At present Bible Methodism has more churches on mission fields than any of its separate Annual Conferences have. Its primary field is in the Philippines where it has some 40 churches and a Bible College operating under national leadership. The Philippine work is organized with its own National Conference with four Annual Conferences. In Mexico, the Bible Methodist Churches were organized into a National Conference in 1992. There the Latin American Bible Institute is operating, with intermittent struggles from lack of faculty and non-cooperative Mexican authorities, on the Mexico-Texas border to train Mexican laymen and pastors to do the work of the ministry. In 1992, two men from South Africa came to the United States seeking for a Methodist Church to affiliate their pioneer work in that country. After traveling throughout the States meeting with various denominations they found Bible Methodism, with its conservative lifestyle and emphasis on holiness, to be the most compatible with their own beliefs. Subsequently, they joined Bible Methodism and become an arm of Bible Methodist missions operating in South Africa.
Home Missions, or church planting, was a dead issue in Bible Methodism until the last seven years. The results of the ingrown focus were isolation and stagnation. However, with the entrance of aggressive leadership in this area, Bible Methodists are beginning to see the potential for evangelizing their communities. Beyond this, at least two new daughter churches are being pioneered.
Published Print Sources
*Minutes of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. (First Annual Session., 1967).
*Alabama Annual Conference Minutes. Twenty-ninth Annual Session. 1995
*Discipline of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. Published by The General Conference, 1991.
*Minutes of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. First General Conference. 1970
*Minutes of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. First Annual Session. 1967.
*Quadrennial Report of the General Missionary Secretary to the Seventh General Conference. June 15, 1994.
*Brush, Norman, former Bible Methodist Pastor (1963-68), presently in Hobe Sound, Florida. Interview by the author, 13 April 1996, Greenville, SC. Telephone interview.
*Littleton, Curt, Alabama Bible Methodist Home Missions secretary, Lawley, AL. Interviewed by the author, 17 April 1996, Greenville, SC. Telephone Interview.
*Parker, John, Pastor of Easley Bible Methodist Church. Interview by the author, 14 April 1996, Easley SC. Personal interview.
*Trouten, Edsel, former Bible Methodist pastor and spokesman for the Bible Methodist secession, presently in Barberton, Ohio. Interview by the author. 15 April 1996, Greenville, SC. Telephone interview.
*Trouten, Edsel, R. Chapter 1 - Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism. Handwritten manuscript recording the formation of the Society for the Preservation of Primitive Wesleyan Methodism and the events leading up to and just following the formation of the Ohio Wesleyan Connection of Churches, subsequently the Ohio Bible Methodists. [no date] .
*Edsel R. Trouten, Telephone interview, 14 April 1966.
*“A Brief History of The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches.” (First Annual Conference, 1967), 1-2.
*(New York: Abington Press, 1974), 67.
* [http://www.biblemethodist.org/ The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches]
* [http://holiness.cc Conservative Holiness Web Directory]
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