SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA)- This week more than 100 churches across the state voted to separate from the United Methodist Church. 28 of those churches are in the Upstate.

“We thought some of the leadership of the church was speaking things that were heretical and against the bible and we hold it strict here to the teachings of Jesus and the bible so that’s the reason my church left,” said Michael Cheatham, pastor at Zoar United Methodist Church.

Pastor Michael Cheatham leads one of the churches that have chosen to separate, and like most of them, he said his church disagreed with the denomination’s recent actions.

“There have been a lot of folks that have been wanting to change the book of discipline but rather than wait until the book changes, they have decided to violate it openly and without any punishment,” said Cheatham.

Pastor Cheatham is referencing laws the United Methodist Church believes in that say the church should support marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

However, LGBTQ+ support groups in the Upstate said as same-sex marriage is not allowed at these churches, and as people in the LGBTQ+ community no longer feel accepted, they will fill that space for them.

“Honestly it’s a little sad that people who have probably already been rejected by churches in the past… they need that safe space so I think PFLAG’s goal is to make sure that person is feeling loved even if they can’t do that in a church today,” said David Wood, vice president of PFLAG Greenville.

David Wood is vice president of PFLAG, a support group for LGBTQ+ people, and said while he spent much of his life dedicated to his religion, his mindset shifted in recent years. 

“In support meetings, we have, not a meeting goes by where religion does not come up,” said Wood. “Someone is struggling because maybe their child just came out and as they desire to continue to love and support their child, family members more or less close down the communication with them and they start losing relationships that meant a lot to them.”

Moving forward, separating churches said while they love and accept everyone, they want to stay true to their beliefs.

“We do believe they have sacred worth,” said Cheatham. “It is just that the bible calls for certain things like a marriage between a man and woman and we adhere to that and that’s our belief and persons of like-mindedness are welcome there.”

All separating churches will leave the UMC affiliation on June 30.  Here is a list below.

Anderson District

  • St. Andrew UMC (Easley)
  • Chiquola UMC (Honea Path)
  • Bells UMC (Abbeville)
  • Salem UMC (Salem)

Greenville District

  • Dials UMC (Gray Court)
  • Shiloh UMC (Gray Court)
  • Buncombe Street UMC (Greenville)
  • Covenant UMC (Greer)
  • Sharon UMC (Greer)
  • Zoar UMC (Greer)
  • Mauldin UMC (Mauldin)
  • Mountain View UMC (Taylors)
  • Greenwood District
  • Hodges UMC (Hodges)
  • Shiloh UMC (Saluda)
  • Butler UMC (Saluda)
  • McCormick UMC (McCormick)

Spartanburg District

  • Wesley Chapel UMC (Union)
  • Liberty UMC-Campobello (Landrum)
  • Buffalo UMC (Buffalo)
  • Campobello UMC (Campobello)
  • Carlisle UMC (Carlisle)
  • Bethlehem UMC-Jonesville (Union)
  • Sardis UMC (Union)
  • Fosters Chapel UMC (Jonesville)
  • Lyman UMC (Lyman)
  • Roebuck UMC (Roebuck)
  • Reidville Road UMC (Moore)
  • Walnut Grove UMC (Roebuck)

The separating churches said over the next year, they will decide how they would like to move forward, with some closing and some switching to independent.