- Evangelical Methodist Church
Infobox Christian denomination
name = Evangelical Methodist Church
imagewidth = 150px
caption = Evangelical Methodist Church international logo
orientation = Evangelical, Holiness
polity = Congregational-Connectional
founded_date = 1946
separated_from = The Methodist Church
merger = The People's Methodist Church (1962), Evangel Church (1960)
separations = Evangelical (Independent) Methodist Churches, Bethel Methodist Church, and others
associations = Christian Holiness Partnership,
National Association of Evangelicals
area = Worldwide: divided into six U.S. districts and missions conferences.
congregations = 106
members = Approx. 8,615
The Evangelical Methodist Church (EMC) is a
Christiandenomination headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. The denomination currently has churches in the United States, Mexico, and Burma/Myanmar.
Congregations are located in 27 U.S. states, and they have a presence in 20 other countries through various missions organizations. The EMC began as a schism of the Methodist Church with a handful of dissenting congregations and ministers. According to latest available figures it has 106 [http://www.emchurch.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/minutes_general_conf_2008.pdf] congregations and about 8,615 members [ [http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/D_1470.asp The Association of Religion Data Archives | Denominations ] ] .
The EMC describes itself as a culturally conservative, evangelical church that is "fundamental in belief, missionary in outlook, evangelistic in endeavor, cooperative in spirit, congregational in government, and Wesleyan in doctrine." [ [http://www.emchurch.org/main/index.php/beliefs-practices/what-we-believe Evangelical Methodist Church » What We Believe ] ] Theologically, the EMC teaches a moderate holiness belief in the inerrancy of the
Holy Bibleand the power of the Holy Spiritto cleanse a Christian from sinand to keep he or she from falling back into a sinful lifestyle. The EMC teaches free will and the call of a Christian to pursue a holy lifestyle while still being actively engaged in the secular world.
The Evangelical Methodist Church was established in
1946as the result of a prayer meeting where clergy and lay-people gathered in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. J.H. Hamblenwas elected chairman of the meeting in Memphis and as the first General Superintendent at the organizational conference in November of that year.
Reaction to liberalism
The EMC came into being during a time when many began to believe that the
Methodist Church, from which most of the original members came, was becoming a more liberal and humanistic organization, specifically with its denial of the accuracy, authority and all-sufficiency of the Bible. As a result of these theological changes in the Methodist Church, the EMC was formed in order to revive what it considered the original principles of the founders of Methodism. [ [http://www.emchurch.org/exponent/index.php?section=108 Evangelical Methodist Churches ] ]
The EMC Book of Discipline's 1966-70 edition reads: "With a firm conviction that the gulf that separates conservative and liberal thought in the church is an ever-widening chasm which can never be healed, the Evangelical Methodist Church came into being to preserve the distinctive Biblical doctrines of primitive methodism." ["Discipline of the Evangelical Methodist Church: 1966-1970," (1966) Driggers, Ronald D., editor; Evangelical Methodist Church International Headquarters, Wichita, Kansas.]
Both the EMC and the denomination from which it sprung (now the
United Methodist Church) share roots in the 18th century English Methodist movement pioneered by John Wesley. They also trace their lineage to the missions of Francis Asbury, Thomas Cokeand the tireless circuit riders of the 1800’s. The "old fashioned" Methodism that they preached grew rapidly largely because of their Bible-based emphasis on free will and on individual personal responsibility before God. Through their local congregations and missions, they inspired other adherents to share their faith with those they considered lost.
Divisions and mergers
In its second decade, the EMC merged with two denominations which shared its belief in entire sanctification and the importance of evangelism.
* On June 4, 1960, the Evangel Church, Inc., in session at its annual conference, voted to unite with the Evangelical Methodist Church and thus become a part of the California District. Formerly known as the Evangelistic Tabernacles and founded by Dr. William Kirby and Dr. Cornelius P. Haggard, the group dates back to March 27, 1933. At the time of merger there were 8 churches and about 675 enrolled in Sunday school, with Rev. R. Lloyd Wilson serving as president of the organization. This merger was approved by the Western Annual Conference of the Evangelical Methodist Church on June 22, 1960. [http://www.emchurch.org/discipline/history.htm]
* On July 3, 1962, the General Conference of the Evangelical Methodist Church voted to merge with the People's Methodist Church, formerly known as the People's Christian Movement, which came into being on January 1, 1938, with Rev. Jim H. Green as the first General Superintendent. The merger was finalized by vote of the People's Methodist Church at a subsequent conference in the summer of 1962. Rev. J. Neal Anderson, General Superintendent at the time of the merger, was elected Superintendent of the Virginia-North Carolina District. [http://www.emchurch.org/discipline/history.htm]
At the first EMC conference in 1948, delegates wholeheartedly approved a plan presented by circuit-riding preacher Dr. Ezequiel B. Vargas, superintendent of the Mexican Evangelistic Mission, that his missions group become a part of the Evangelical Methodist Church. Dr. Vargas and Dr. Hamblen maintained a strong friendship and working relationship. A Bible institute in Torreón, Mexico, Instituto Bíblico Vida y Verdad [http://ibvv.memar.org] , is the result of this work. [ [http://ibvv.memar.org Instituto Biblico Vida y Verdad (Life and Truth Bible Institute)] ]
A mention was made at the 2006 General Conference of talks with the Evangelical Church regarding a possible merger. [http://www.emchurch.org/exponent/index.php?section=144]
Churches of Christ in Christian Union[http://www.cccuhq.org] is referred to as a "sister denomination" to the EMC and sends an observer to its general conferences. That denomination is itself a fusion of several denominations including the Christian Union and the holiness Churches of Christ, and later the Reformed Methodist Church's Northeast District.
A small denomination, the Bethel Methodist Church [http://www.bethelmethodist.com] , sprung from a theological disagreement in the Mid-States District regarding district ministers' stand on holiness and free will on March 24, 1989 [http://www.bethelmethodist.com/discipline/index2.htm] . The group claims four congregations.
The EMC is headquartered in the Hamblen-Bruner Headquarters Building in
Dr. Edward W. Williamson is the General Superintendent of the EMC. The General Superintendent is elected by a quadrennial international general conference.
The denomination has no bishops, though Dr. Williamson and others have attempted at previous conferences to begin the office.
Denominationally licensed orders of ministry include: Local Preachers, Elders (ordination as such is required to become a pastor), Deacons and Deaconesses. Historically, the EMC has recognized Song Evangelists and Lay Exhorters as orders appointed by the local church.
As of April 2008, each district has a district superintendent, which oversees each of the congregations in a geographic area. The congregations control their own finances, elect their own ministers and own their own property. However, some smaller congregations have complained of being strong-armed into "mission status" (where the district owns property and appoints a pastor) as part of "church restart" attempts. [ [http://www.geocities.com/dentonemc University EMC, Denton, Texas: Online Memorial ] ] [ [http://www.emchurch.org/exponent/index.php?section=224 Evangelical Methodist Churches ] ] U.S. Districts (sometimes referred to as "conferences") include: Mid-States, Central Lakes, Southern, Southwest, Northwest and Atlantic.
Departments include: Prayer, Stewardship, Pensions, Publications and Multicultural Ministries. Auxiliaries of the denomination include Men, Women and Youth organizations.
Local church administrative structures vary, but the Book of Discipline calls for a board of Stewards and a board of Trustees to work in conjunction with a pastor. The pastor is responsible for oversight of the local church's ministries and other ministers.
In March 2008, Superintendent Ed Williamson proposed that the districts be changed into regions and merged into a single conference. This plan, called the "One Conference Model" and part of the CSP (Comprehensive Strategic Plan), was proposed to
delegatesat the General Conference in July 2008. [ [http://www.emchurch.org/main/index.php/2008/04/14/addendum-for-the-superintendents-csp-report Evangelical Methodist Church » Addendum for the Superintendents' CSP Report ] ] According to the plan, The General Conference would be held every three years and in-between General Conference years, two annual convocations would be held on the east and west coasts. Williamson decried the current level of independence of the various districts as departation from the denomination's "Methodist moorings." The motion to adopt the reorganization plan failed to gain the three-fourths support necessary, with 157-100 delegate votes (61.1 to 39.9%). [http://www.emchurch.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/minutes_general_conf_2008.pdf] The plan may be addressed again in 2010.
The EMC, though containing Holiness and non-Holiness Fundamentalists in the beginning, experienced a schism early in its history.
According to an observer, "The history of the Evangelical Methodist Church illustrates the tensions inherent in a Fundamentalist-Holiness relationship. Founded in 1946 as a protest against growing liberalism in the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Methodist Church contained both Holiness and non-Holiness factions. Eventually, the tension grew too great, and in 1952 the denomination split over the issue of entire sanctification. The non-Holiness segment, led by W.W. (William Wallace) Breckbill, took the more ardently Fundamentalist position, aligning itself with the American Council of Churches of Christ, a Fundamentalist alliance. In this case, mutual opposition to liberalism was not sufficient to make up for deep differences over the doctrine of sanctification. Once the split took place, those opposed to entire sanctification found themselves more comfortable in the Fundamentalist camp. This story reproduces in miniature the general outline of Fundamentalist-Holiness interaction." ["The Conservative Holiness Movement: A Fundamentalism File Research Report;" Mark Sidwell, Bob Jones University (copyright and date unknown).] [http://www.bju.edu/library/collections/fund_file/chm.html#sdendnote71sym]
Evangelical (Independent) Methodist Churches
W.W. Breckbill's camp became known as the Evangelical (Independent) Methodist Church [http://www.evangelicalmethodistch.org/] and they operate Breckbill Bible College [http://www.breckbillbiblecollege.org] in
Max Meadows, Virginia. This EMC is more into cultural separatism than its parent denomination and does not teach the doctrine of Entire, Instantaneous Sanctification.
Evangelical Methodist Church of America
Several independent local churches go by the name "Evangelical Methodist Church" -- many of which are affiliated with the Evangelical Methodist Church of America, established in 1952 by dissenting members of the EMC. [http://www.emc-hcs.org/] They, too, have a more distinct attitude of cultural separatism than does the larger EMC, and place a greater emphasis on
congregationalism. These churches have more in common with the Conservative Holiness Movement.
* [http://www.emchurch.org/exponent Evangelical Methodist Church International Web site]
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