The Center for Pastoral Formation

The Opportunity: A Faithful Partnership between The Free Methodist Denomination and Greenville University.

A startling collaborative opportunity is possible due to a kairos moment of organizational renewal under a completely new Board of Bishops in the Free Methodist Church USA and the new leadership of Greenville University, with a generous donor family motivated to fund a high-impact


The Vision:

The Free Methodist Church USA’s process for developing leaders uses the organizing concept of “Head, Heart and Hands,” via Outcomes-Based Ordination. This comprehensive approach of teaching timeless, orthodox theology and church history, spiritual disciplines, and the practicalities of church governance and leadership builds on the legacy of John Wesley. Head denotes biblical and theological depth and substance. Heart stands for a vital spiritual life as the wellspring of godly character and emotional health. Hands stands for competence--that is, excellence in the skills necessary to lead the 21st Century Church in its mission of multiplying disciples, leaders, groups, and churches.

The Center for Pastoral Formation is designed to serve the Free Methodist denomination in perpetuity. Its location at one of our historic universities will facilitate a renewed connection with the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions; greater collaboration with all of them is envisioned.

Housed in the University’s new Smart Center on the Town Square, the Center will benefit from the Greenville campus and community as the home base for its global reach. Some courses, seminars and other learning experiences will be offered as live, in-person gatherings at the Smart Center, while most courses will be offered in an array of virtual formats, enabled by the Smart Center’s world- class technology. John Wesley’s words, “The world is my parish” may be fulfilled literally, as learners from across the globe log on to view video lectures and enroll in online courses taught by leading Free Methodist and other Wesleyan scholars and vetted, fruitful pastors and church leaders from across the US and around the world. The Center’s community of learners will include persons who are pursuing ordination, seasoned pastors who hunger for continuing education, and others who intend to serve the Lord as laypersons and want to grow in knowledge and effectiveness.

To protect the relationship between Greenville University and the Free Methodist Church worldwide in perpetuity, the denomination will always have primary direction and oversight. One of the ways to assure this is the portability of endowment funds, in case of need, to preserve Free Methodist interests.

After the Center is developed and functioning as designed, Phase 2 is intended to generate and host course offerings to earn higher education credit from Greenville University and/or to incorporate the courses as part of the on-campus Experience Institute curriculum, with each step being subject to the Board of Bishops. Annual evaluations that place founding documents alongside that year’s Center “product” in an audit process conducted by a mission fidelity committee will ensure high-quality implementation of the vision in perpetuity.