Conservative holiness movement

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The conservative holiness movement is a term that loosely defines a group of conservative Christian denominations that trace their origin back to Methodist roots and the teachings of John Wesley.

Doctrines and distinctives[edit]

The beliefs of the conservative holiness movement vary slightly from group to group. The common thread between them is Christians can live a holy life with the help of God.

Differences between conservative holiness churches and mainstream holiness churches include, but are not limited to, standards of dress, fashion, and entertainment. A distinctive of the CHM is what are called "standards."

During rapid cultural shifts in the United States, the conservative holiness movement has largely been successful at remaining unchanged, especially in regards to outward appearance. The movement holds to the belief that regardless of cultural shifts, its message of a conservative holiness lifestyle should not change or deviate from its original intent. The churches believe that the experience of "holiness of heart and life" will be the answer to holding to the doctrine and teachings of scripture.


The conservative holiness movement is a part of the broader holiness movement and is often referred to as the same. During the early 1950s, there were significant cultural shifts taking place in United States. The Post-World War II era brought many changes to American culture, and as a result, the conservative element of the holiness movement sought to separate its people from the trend of "worldliness" they felt was becoming more prominent. Because of these societal changes, many conferences or districts took the initiative to adopt resolutions within their bodies to specifically list items of prohibition within their discipline. The list of prohibitions included the wearing of gold (which included a wedding ring), specific prohibitions against watching television, women cutting their hair and various fashion restrictions or following other pursuits that would identify itself with the current trends.

In 1955 the Bible Missionary Church was formed in Idaho and soon grew nationwide. The churches and people seceded from the Nazarene church over the above mentioned "worldliness" issues. In 1963, the Pilgrim Holiness Church of New York seceded from the Pilgrim Holiness Church to become an independent organization. Meanwhile, in 1966, the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Pilgrim Holiness Church proposed a merger to form the Wesleyan Church. This merger was finalized in 1968. After the merger, a group of conservative holiness Christians separated over issues of church polity, government and the growing concern over "worldliness". The Wesleyan Church aligns itself today with the mainstream holiness movement and is similar in doctrine and polity to the Church of the Nazarene.

During the process of and after the merger, the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches, the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection of Churches, the Bible Methodist Connection of Tennessee (Tennessee Bible Methodists), the Bible Methodist Connection of Alabama (Alabama Bible Methodists), Bible Covenant Church, Pilgrim Holiness Church (Midwest Conference), International Conservative Holiness Association, Pilgrim Nazarene, Wesleyan Nazarene, Emmanuel Missionary Church, Bible Holiness Church, Wesleyan Holiness Association were all organized. These new churches seceded from much larger and established mainstream holiness churches such as the Nazarene and the Wesleyan Churches. While most of the churches have their roots in the Church of the Nazarene, The Pilgrim Holiness Church, or the Wesleyan Methodist Church, some come from other roots. These would include but not be limited to: the Church of God (Holiness) - Methodist Church, Central Yearly Meeting of Friends - Friends Church, God's Missionary Church - Area Revivals.


Educational institutions[edit]

Listed below are colleges and schools affiliated with the conservative holiness movement:


A number of mission endeavors exist within the conservative holiness movement with active mission fields in the Philippines, South Africa, Ukraine, Haiti, Peru, Mexico, Asia, Eastern Europe, India, and South Korea. Listed below are a few of the mission organizations affiliated with the conservative holiness movement. Most of the denominations listed above also maintain their own missions boards and departments for both Home and Foreign Missions.

  • Bible Methodist Missions[15]
  • Evangelical Bible Mission
  • Evangelistic Faith Missions[16]
  • Hope International Misions[17]
  • Worldwide Faith Missions
  • Pilgrim Missions
  • Society of Indian Missions
  • ICHA Ministries[18]

See also[edit]



External links[edit]