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Theological Assumptions

Greenville University is a Christian university of the liberal arts and sciences founded by the Free Methodist Church and committed to the following description of our theological character.

As Christians, we believe that God exists and is presently and actively engaged in the lives of people. Though we employ terms such as wonderful, powerful, righteous, loving, all-knowing, merciful, and holy to describe God, none of them alone, or even in total, can completely capture the identity of God. Because that identity must be both experienced and learned, we commit ourselves to a living and learning environment which nurtures the whole person. We affirm that, as God's creatures, persons are endowed with the ability to respond to, and ultimately to know and achieve intimacy with God.

This intimacy with God results in life growing ever more harmonious with God's nature, which can be described in terms of goodness, beauty, truthfulness, freedom, and love. Because these qualities transcend all cultural, historical, and ethnic boundaries, Greenville University seeks to do the same.

We have seen that humanity does not live in harmony with God, and we seek to understand why. We believe that God is helping us to gain this knowledge, both through revelation and by discovery in that which God has done in history and has made in creation. Refusal to embrace this revelation and to begin the journey of discovery is at the root of humanity's problem. This problem has traditionally been defined as sin and can be best understood in terms of its consequences: alienation in all relationships, captivity to sin, and a darkened heart and mind. Death is the ultimate experience of this alienation and darkness. We understand that the person of Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, and the work of Christ redeems all creation, dispels the darkness of ignorance, frees people from captivity to sin, and restores all relationships. All this is mediated through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, holding the hope of redemption and life for humankind.

These affirmations lead us to embrace a Christianity that is best defined as orthodox. Orthodox Christianity, holding to what might be described as a central consensus among Christians of all times and cultures, affirms that:
We believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

We are confident that affirming the Apostles' Creed is completely necessary and adequate for one to claim to be fully Christian. To define how we at Greenville have and are working out our faith in practice, it must be understood that we are the willing, and sometimes unwilling, inheritors of several religious impulses and traditions including orthodox Christianity, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the Puritan ethos, an Evangelical tradition, the Anglican/Methodist tradition, the Pentecostal/Holiness impulse, and American Revivalism.

In accordance with the approval by the FMC-USA Board of Administration on April 20, 2023

Educational Institutions

Educational institutions are responsible for promoting and helping to maintain adequate opportunity for college and graduate training in alignment with the values, beliefs and mission of the Free Methodist Church.

The Free Methodist Church—USA recognizes as educational institutions those colleges and universities whose commitments are consistent with the history, theology, mission and character of the Free Methodist Church.

The Free Methodist educational institutions shall have a statement of faith consistent with Free Methodist Church—USA doctrine which boards of trustees and executive leaders agree shall guide the policies of the institution.

The Free Methodist educational institutions shall have a statement of lifestyle expectations for the campus community, which is consistent with the principles and practices of the Book of Discipline of the Free Methodist Church - USA.

All instruction shall be in harmony with the teachings of the Scriptures and the Free Methodist Articles of Religion.

Denominational Relationship Status

A. Leadership Commitments

     1. The president shall be a member of the Free Methodist Church who actively seeks to create a Free Methodist presence in the life and leadership of the institution.

     2. The chief academic officer shall be a member of the Free Methodist Church, or one who is in both conviction and spirit committed to Wesleyan theology and perspectives.

B. Mission Commitments

     1. The Free Methodist educational institutions shall have articles of incorporation, bylaws or other appropriate governance documents which:

          a. identify the college or university as a private institution of evangelical higher education affiliated with the Free Methodist Church - USA;

          b. define the relationship of the institution to the churches and conferences of the Free Methodist Church – USA; and,

          c. specify Free Methodist Church - USA representation in the governing board.

2. The Free Methodist educational institutions shall have a mission statement which includes an institutional priority to serve as an educational resource for the advancement of Christianity through the Church.

C. Connectional Commitments

1. All trustees shall be committed Christians of whom no less than twenty-five percent shall be members of the Free Methodist Church.
2. No less than ten percent of faculty shall be members of the Free Methodist Church.
3. The school, division or department of religion shall have a majority of full-time faculty who are members of the Free Methodist Church or sister Wesleyan denominations with all members affirming Wesleyan theology and the Articles of Religion of the Free Methodist Church as its educational focus.
4. The Religion Department chair shall be Free Methodist or thoroughly Wesleyan.
5. The institutions shall offer courses in Free Methodist history, government, mission and theology.
6. The relationship to and presence of bishops and denominational leaders shall be defined.
7. The institutions shall have an intentional plan for Free Methodists to speak at chapel, colloquia and events.
8. The institutions shall participate in the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions.

D. Recognition Process Based Upon:

1. Denominational institutions shall be recognized at each General Conference and the presidents of those institutions shall serve as voting delegates.
2. Denominational institutions shall reapply for endorsement in the year prior to each subsequent General Conference.
3. Each Free Methodist educational institution shall review and reaffirm at least every four years in its board of trustees minutes its covenant relationship with the Free Methodist Church.

Affiliated Relationship Status

A. Other institutions of higher education may apply to the Board of Administration for endorsement as affiliated institutions. The minimal expectations for this relationship shall be that:

1. the institution shall have Free Methodist representation on the Board of Trustees, administration and faculty; and
2. provision shall be made for instruction in Free Methodist curricula of concern: i.e. Free Methodist history, doctrine, polity, mission and vision.
3. The task of nurturing a Free Methodist presence on the campus, by welcoming Free Methodist clergy, educators, leaders and innovators to speak at chapel, colloquia and special events shall be assigned.

B. Based upon an application to the Free Methodist Church—USA’s Board of Administration, and upon recommendation by the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions, in the year prior to General Conference, an institution of higher education, which meets these criteria may be endorsed as an Affiliated Institution. Each Free Methodist educational institution shall review and reaffirm at least every four years in its board of trustees minutes its covenant relationship with the Free Methodist Church.

Associate Relationship Status

A. Other institutions of higher education….(the rest of the paragraph remains the same, thus this whole section only applies to higher education, not high schools.) Each Free Methodist educational institution shall review and reaffirm at least every four years in its board of trustees minutes its covenant relationship with the Free Methodist Church.

1. The institution shall have Free Methodist representation on the Board of Trustees.
2. The institution’s mission shall connect to and support the mission of the Free Methodist Church – USA.

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