Our World Wide Church Family
The World Methodist Council is made up of 80 Methodist, Wesleyan and related Uniting and United Churches representing over 80.5 million people in 133 countries. To find a member church in your area please consult the following map or use the A-to-Z guide located below.
To view a member church’s contact details, click the blue arrow button.
* denotes churches under the Central and South Europe Central Conference of the United Methodist Church
** denotes churches under the Northern Europe Central Conference of the United Methodist Church
African Methodist Episcopal ChurchContact: Bishop Reginald T. Jackson African Methodist Episcopal Church Visit Website
The African Methodist Episcopal Church grew out of the Free African Society, a mutual aid organization that Richard Allen founded in 1787. Allen, a Philadelphia-born slave who had purchased his freedom in Delaware, had experience as an itinerant Methodist preacher and associate of the famed Francis Asbury. An ugly racial incident at St. George Methodist Church in Philadelphia convinced Allen to start another branch of Methodism which affirmed in practice the equality of all human beings. Though he led his followers in building Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia in 1794, white Methodists tried to assert authority over its congregational affairs. In 1801, however, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania confirmed Bethel’s autonomy. In 1816 Allen convened black Methodists from other middle Atlantic communities to form the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. He was consecrated the first bishop of the church.
The A.M.E. Church rapidly spread during the antebellum period to every section of the United States and into Canada and Haiti. On the slave soil of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, the District of Columbia, and for a time South Carolina were numerous A.M.E. congregations. During the Civil War A.M.E. ministers recruited soldiers into the Union Army and served themselves as military chaplains. Even before the war ended A.M.E. missionaries traveled into the former Confederacy to draw freedmen into the denomination. As membership swelled to 400,000 by 1880, A.M.E. leaders, both clergy and lay, sat in Reconstruction legislatures, held seats in Congress, and served in scores of other political offices.
Formal entry into West Africa in 1891 and South Africa in 1896 made the denomination a significant black institution beyond the western hemisphere. Reunification in 1884 with the previously dissident British Methodist Episcopal Church brought the denomination back into Canada, and added the Maritime Provinces, Bermuda, and parts of South America. Missionaries also pushed the boundaries of the A.M.E. Church to embrace most areas of the Caribbean including significant attention to Cuba.
Further expansion in Africa culminated in the 1990s. At the 1996 General Conference Bishop McKinley Young of South Africa and Namibia successfully petitioned for recognition of the Angola Annual Conference. Similarly, Bishop Robert V. Webster of Central Africa gained acceptance for a fellowship of congregations in Uganda to become A.M.E.s.
Also by the turn of the 20th century nearly every southern and border state and some in the north and west contained within them A.M.E. supported schools. They ranged from the secondary to the college, university, and seminary levels. Wilberforce University in Ohio, founded in 1856 and A.M.E. sponsored since 1863, was the denomination’s most prominent educational institution. In the Caribbean and Africa the A.M.E. Church similarly started schools with Monrovia College and Industrial Institute in Liberia and Wilberforce Institute in South Africa as the best known.
The two world wars which inaugurated a massive movement of the blacks from the American South to northern and western cities spearheaded another period of A.M.E. development. Numerous churches in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and other areas developed a social gospel which redefined the thrust of A.M.E. ministry. Such southern and border state clergy as Joseph DeLaine in Clarendon County, South Carolina and Oliver Brown in Topeka, Kansas, moved to end legalized segregation with court suits they initiated in their respective locales. Culminating with the famous Brown case of 1854 A.M.E. leaders like their predecessors during the Civil War helped to spearhead important changes in American society.
Women have pressed the denomination continuously to recognize their spiritual gifts. Hence, Bishop Richard Allen authorized Jarena Lee to preach in 1817. Bishop Henry M. Turner ordained Sarah A. Hughes as an itinerant deacon in the North Carolina Annual Conference in 1885. Although his successor rescinded this
action, women continued to function as evangelists, even pastoring congregations starting in the late 19th century. The marathon efforts of Martha Jayne Keys and others caused the General Conference of 1960 to authorize the full ordination of women as itinerant elders. Bishop Vashti McKenzie, who leads the 18th Episcopal District, and lived in Lesotho, South Africa, was the first woman bishop elected in the A.M.E. Church. The Woman’s Missionary Society and the Lay Organization serve the church through notable voter education, HIV/AIDS programs, and employment programs and projects.
With more than 2.5 million members in 8,000 congregations on four continents, the A.M.E. Church plays a pivotal role in sustaining the Allen tradition in numerous nations in the Americas, Africa and Europe.
African Methodist Episcopal Zion ChurchContact: Bishop George E. Battle, Jr. African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Visit Website
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is an independent denomination that grew out of the original Methodist Episcopal Church. The formal organization of the A.M.E. Zion church was recognized in 1796 in New York City. James Varick was the first Bishop. The A.M.E. Zion Church shares a common heritage with Christians of every age and nation according to the witness and teachings of the Apostles of Jesus Christ.
Zion Methodism grew out of the merciless enslavement of our African forebears. They were kidnapped from their native land, chained and shackled, shipped as beasts in deplorable conditions to a strange and distant land, having no family, no culture and no language. Yet, our fathers and mothers were confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ, in the cotton fields and every place of the humiliation and degradation revealing to them that He would always be with them as He had been with them in the past. When Jesus, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord had descended was preached at John Street Methodist Church, they united with that fellowship. However, bigotry and oppressively cruel barriers confronted them. The spirit of the Lord led them in the establishment of Zion Chapel (which later became the Mother Church of Zion Methodism) where the gospel of His redeeming grace could be purely preached and His vindicating and liberating influences could be experienced. Taking with them the doctrines, discipline, and polity of the Methodist Episcopal Church, they proceeded in the establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. They believed that God had called them out of their bondage and had chosen them to be His people and a channel of His redeeming love for all people.
We believe and understand today that, in the Divine economy, Zion Methodism is to make disciples of all persons throughout the earth, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captive, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
In 1996 we observed our Bicentennial Celebration marking 200 years of our existence. The celebration took place in New York City where we had our beginning. During this celebration, we were invited back to the John Street Methodist Church for a special service. It was indeed a moving moment. To God be the Glory!
Albania, United Methodist Church*Contact: Supt. Wilfried Nausner Albania, United Methodist Church*
The roots of the Methodist mission in Albania go back to the 19th century. In those days, American missionaries (later increasingly replaced by Albanians) not only preached and taught the Gospel, but also provided help in daily life. Their efforts to provide the populace with basic schooling were of especial importance. For many years the “Protestants” ran the only school for girls in Albania, and they also played an important role in the development of a common alphabet to integrate Albania’s various regions and dialects. Unfortunately, this hopeful work was not graced with longevity.
Albanian Communism took a strict and destructive form like no other in Europe, and when the country opened up politically in the early 1990s, it was in ruins. A process of cautious reconstruction followed, and even though it is sometimes overshadowed by unrest and tension, this process is irreversible.
In 1992, dedicated members of the UMC congregation in Wismar, Germany began to support this process by contributing material goods to Albania and rebuilding the school infrastructure in the mountain villages of southeastern Albania. Their dedication has been productive. The people in Bishnica, a poor mountain village of 800, began to take interest in the driving force behind this work, and with the formation of a full-time team of Albanian and German Christians in Bishnica, the next step was taken. The team continued and expanded its charity work and evangelization. Through these efforts, about two dozen people discovered their faith in Jesus Christ and were baptized in July of 1998. This represented the founding of the UMC in Bishnica. Since then, the Church has continued to develop: it now boasts about 100 members in Bishnica and other villages in the vicinity or — because of the migration — in the further neighbourhood.
Most of the people in Albania are still very poor. Shipments of badly needed goods and assistance from abroad are still very welcome, especially in the mountains. By replacing dilapidated furniture, patching leaky roofs, and repairing broken heaters, the aid workers contribute significantly to improving the working conditions in community buildings and schools. A medical/nursing service, a reforestation project, and the founding of a boarding school for children from distant villages where the schools have been closed, all contribute to securing a brighter future for the people in the mountains.
In spite of these improvements, more and more people are leaving Bishnica and the surrounding villages in order to look for work, to study, or simply to seek their fortunes in the larger cities. It is a great challenge to follow them and use the existing Emails to approach more people, but it has, for example, led to the founding of small Methodist groups in Pogradec, Tirana and Korca.
Two young Albanians who began their theological studies in the Graz-Waiern program in Austria in 2004 will return to Albania in Summer 2008 and will take over responsibility. This is an important step towards a new
future, in which the UMC in Albania will be led and shaped by Albanians.
Although there are loose Emails between the Methodists in Albania and in Macedonia (e.g. in the International Youth Camp in Macedonia), structural cooperation is not possible. For this reason, the Methodist work in Albania, which so far has not been officially registered as a Church, is under the direct supervision of the Bishop of the UMC in Central and Southern Europe.
Algeria/Tunisia, United Methodist Church*Contact: Bishop Patrick Streiff Algeria/Tunisia, United Methodist Church*
Argentina, Evangelical Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Frank de Nully Brown Argentina, Evangelical Methodist Church Visit Website
In March 1825 the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York proposed the establishment of a mission in South America. This proposal was acted upon favorably by the 1832 General Conference. In 1835 the Rev. F. E. Pitts visited Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Montevideo and recommended to the 1936 General Conference that work be established in the first two of these cities. Consequently, Dr. John Dempster arrived in Buenos Aires in December of that year to begin work. The work flourished and resulted in the erection of a sanctuary. Because of financial problems, Dr. Dempster was recalled as was Dr. William H. Norris who had opened work in Montevideo. The local congregation, however, received permission to continue the work and underwrite the salary of Dr. Norris who came to Buenos Aires from Montevideo. On January 3, 1843, the first Methodist sanctuary in South America was dedicated.
In 1856 the Missionary Society sent Dr. William Goodfellow to reinitiate the missionary work in South America. Since it was forbidden by local regulations to preach the gospel in Spanish, the work was extended in foreign languages to colonies established in the provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Rios. With more liberal laws obtained in the country, Dr. John F. Thompson, a Scotsman brought up in Argentina, and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan (USA) on the 25th of May, 1867, preached the first public sermon in Spanish. From thence the work of the Methodist Church, followed in the course of time by other denominations, spread throughout the country. The missionary thrust went beyond the borders, and opened work in Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. This work including the work, begun by Bishop Taylor in Chile, was organized into the South American Annual Conference.
The Methodist Church in Argentina continued growing in important cities like Rosario, Cordoba, Mendoza, Bahia Blanca, mar de Plata and in many other places. Many local churches organized primary schools, kindergartens and projects to serve poor people. On October 5, 1969, the church became autonomous as Iglesia Evangelica Metodista Argentina (IEMA) and Rev. Carlos T. Gattinoni was elected as its first bishop.
The IEMA had seven regions since that date with seven superintendents. In 1973 the General Assembly approved a document about the strategy of a church. It affirmed: “The Methodist Church today defines its mission in our country as service to the total liberation as carried by Jesus Christ and to which He invites the people and societies of Latin America to participate…” “Liberation: this word involves two concepts which are inseparable, united and mutually dependent; personal salvation and the redemption of society.”
The Iglesia Evangelica Metodista Argentina has more than 115 congregations, 89 ordained ministers, 180 lay preachers, 210 Christian education teachers, 7 primary schools, 5 secondary schools and one university.
There are many kindergartens, several projects that serve children and women. Its ecumenical contribution is very wide; we are a part of 33 ecumenical projects.
The church includes a community of approximately 20,000 baptized persons who hold membership in the church.
Australia, Chinese Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Dr. James Kwang Australia, Chinese Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Church in Singapore and the Methodist Church in Malaysia were established as a result of the Methodist missionary movement during the later part of the eighteenth century. The Lord has indeed blessed the ministry of the Methodist Church in South East Asia. The Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, in particular, was aware of its missionary obligations. Many of the migrants who speak only their mother tongue found it hard to fit into the Australian mainstream churches. Missionaries from East Malaysia were sent to Australia to minister to the migrants. As the numbers grew preaching centres and churches were established.
A Mission Conference was incorporated in 1993. Six years later, at the annual conference which took place in November 1999 held in Perth, a Provisional Annual Conference was established according to the Constitution. There are three districts (East, West, South) with a district superintendent each to oversee the ministries of the local churches. In November 2002, we became a full Annual Conference after having achieved a membership of 10 elders. We now have 15 churches in all the major cities in Australia. The present bishop is Bishop Albert Chiew.
There are presently 13 elders, 4 deacons and 4 pastors on trial. Total registered membership in 2006 was 1482.
Australia, Uniting Church inContact: Rev. Alistair Macrae Australia, Uniting Church in Visit Website
The Uniting Church was formed in 1977 by a union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Australia. The largest component of its initial membership was Methodist, as sections of the other two churches remained outside of the union.
As indicated by the deliberate choice of its name, the Uniting Church has a strong ecumenical ethos. It is an active participant in world church forums, including the World Council of Churches, the Christian Conference of Asia and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the World Methodist Council. It acts in partnership with 32 churches in Asia and the Pacific, and has long associations with Methodist and United churches in Papua New Guinea, India, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. In Australia it is in national dialogue with nine other churches, although none of those relationships are expected to result in further union in the near future.
The Uniting Church is the third largest church in Australia with approximately 2,000 congregations and 240,000 members and adherents. In common with other „mainstream‟ Australian churches it is faced with the challenge of diminishing numbers as secularism continues to grow.
Government of the church follows an inter-conciliar model. The national Assembly is headed by the church‟s president, elected to office for a period of three years. Six synods, corresponding largely to the states of Australia, are the largest administrative bodies; they are headed by moderators who are elected for terms of 1-3 years. The Presbyteries, or district bodies, only some of which have their own staff, are headed by elected chairpersons.
Among the main features of the church are: An increasing multi-culturalism, five percent of the membership worships in languages other than English; The “Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress” provides for Aboriginal Christians to exercise oversight with respect to ministry with Aboriginal people. The UCA has been in a covenant relationship with Congress since 1985. A vast community service operation, which makes it the largest non-government provider of services in Australia, constant action on social justice matters, including strong stances on Aboriginal rights, disarmament, human rights and economic justice; a growing effort to transform congregations into “outposts of local mission and evangelism” through a ten-year thrust under the banner of “Forward Together;” commitment to the theological scholarship, with a network of six theological colleges, most of which are associated with universities.
A permanent ordained diaconate, established in 1992, plus new ministry orders of community minister and youth worker are now contributing significantly to the church‟s mission.
Austria, United Methodist Church*Contact: Supt. Lothar Pöll Austria, United Methodist Church* Visit Website
Methodist work in Austria was begun in Vienna in 1870 by preachers of the Wesleyan Methodist Church from southern Germany. About thirty years later, it was joined with the mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Europe. Until 1920 there were severe restrictions by the State bodies; the Methodists only had the right to a “familial practice of religion”. When a mission conference was formed in 1911, it included congregations in Austria (Vienna and Graz), Hungary, and what is today Serbia (Vojvodina). After the First World War, this conference was divided due to the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A time of serious unemployment and poverty followed, during which the Methodist Church was able to provide significant aid, mainly through support from abroad. In response to the religious freedom in the new Austrian state, congregations were formed in Vienna, St. Poelten, Krems, and Linz, and a home for children in Türnitz was founded as well. The worship services and Sunday School were full. Czech language services were also held in Vienna. In 1933, the parliament was dissolved by force, and the new religious freedom was rescinded. Oppression under a Catholic-minded Fascist regime followed (“Ständestaat”). This regime was succeeded by the National Socialists in 1938 and by the Anschluss to the Third Reich. Until the end of the Second World War, the Austrian congregations were part of the Southern German Conference of the Methodist Church.
In 1945, the Methodist Church in Austria was reorganized. It was a difficult time. Challenged by their own distress, the Methodists helped countless refugees which had come into the country. As a result of this service, new congregations were formed in the refugee camps in Linz, Ried/Inn, Salzburg, and Bregenz. In 1951, the Methodist Church was recognized by the Austrian state. Pastors from the US, Switzerland, and Germany came to help rebuild the Church. In 1956 Hungarian refugees were accommodated by the congregations in Vienna, Linz and Graz and provided with food and medicines. In Linz a social ministry and a kindergarten were established.
Even today, internationalism and openness toward seekers of all generations are still typical characteristics of the UMC in Austria. Because of this, in practically all congregations, people from many different nations come together, and worship services are sometimes translated into several languages. In Vienna, there is also a lively English-speaking congregation that was founded in 1978. This basic openness is the reason that, slowly but steadily, the Austrian Church is growing.
Although the UMC in Austria is a small Church, it plays an important role in the ecumenical movement and in the organization and support of many international conferences. It is a founding member of the Ecumenical Council of Austria. It maintains close Emails with the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church (pulpit and table fellowship) and cooperates, among others, in the areas of charities, public relations, and religion lessons in schools.
The “Zentrum Spattstrasse” in Linz provides important social and pedagogical services for children and young people from all over Austria, and is widely known and respected. This institute for social-pedagogical initiatives includes welfare education groups for socially disadvantaged girls, a hospital for children with behavioural problems, a kindergarten, pedagogical training facilities, a day-care clinic, an out-patient clinic, and a shelter in the center of Linz, among other projects.
The Church is also an enormously important bridgehead to the Methodist congregations in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Albania. One fruit of these decades-old relationships is the study program in Graz-Waiern, which was developed to provide for the theological education of future leaders in the UMC in southeastern Europe. After learning the German language in Graz (6-12 months), the students take part in a theological study program with internships in charity work at the Diakoniewerk in Waiern. During this entire period, they are members of the UMC congregation in Graz, where the open atmosphere ensures that they will be firmly anchored in the UMC, even though they are far from their homes.
The UMC rounds out its missionary work by running a Protestant bookshop and publishing house in Vienna.
Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church (BCMC)Contact: Rev. Christopher H. Neely, President Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church (BCMC) Visit Website
Methodism reached the Caribbean in 1760. Almost a quarter of a century later, devout Methodists migrated from America to the Bahamas as “Loyalists”. By 1786, two fonner slaves, Joseph Paul and Anthony Wallace had gathered Methodists in New Providence for worship. They built a small wooden chapel/schoolroom and worshipped there before going on to Christchurch Anglican Church to receive Holy Communion.
By the late 1790’s Anthony Wallace, the administrator of the early Methodists in The Bahamas, requested Dr. Thomas Coke to appoint a Minister to The Bahamas. Referring to the records of the Methodist Missionary Society in England, Colbert Williams in his book “The Methodist Contribution to… The Bahamas” states: „in 1799 the British Methodist Conference meeting in Manchester decided to station William Turton, a white J3arbadian, in The Bahamas. He landed at Nassau on 22nd October 1800.” (Page 35)
William Turton continued the emphasis on education that Joseph Paul and Anthony Wallace had begun. Education was offered to a wide cross-section of the population. Methodism spread throughout the islands. From 1800 to 1968 The Methodist Church in The Bahamas was an overseas “District” of the British Methodist Church. By 1968 there were 36 Methodist churches in The Bahamas and 4 in the Turks and Caicos Islands Circuit.
In 1967 The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas was granted autonomy by the British Conference with Headquarters in Antigua. The Bahamas District voted not to join the MCCA in 1967 but did join in 1968. The Bahamas was then joined with the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In 1991 the Abaco Circuit brought a Resolution to the Synod seeking autonomy for the Bahamas/Turks and Caicos Islands District. Following the 1991 historic Synod, held in
Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas District of the Methodist Church began to walk the road to becoming an Autonomous Methodist Church.
The years 1991-1993 were years of dialogue and struggle as the Bahamas District worked with the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas to work out the details for the District to become autonomous. Despite our best efforts it became evident that the path toward Autonomy was headed for a separation between the two groups. The Majority of Methodists in The Bahamas and the majority of the Churches supported the move towards autonomy. 86% of the Methodist people in The Bahamas voted to join the new Conference. 14% voted not to join.
The Bahamas Parliament passed the Methodist Church Bill in July 1993 and the Uniting Conference was held at Ebenezer Methodist Church, Nassau, The Bahamas on 30th July, 1993. Thirty-two participating Methodist Churches signed the Deed of Union thus bringing into being The Methodist Church of The Bahamas.
The Foundation Conference of The Methodist Church of the Bahamas, to be known as (The Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church) was held on 17th – 18th November, 1993. The first officers of the new Conference were installed and consecrated at a special service on 18th November 1993 at Ebenezer Methodist Church. Rev. Dr. Cohn Archer, President, Mrs. Kenris L. Carey, Vice President; Dr. Reginald W Eldon, Secretary and Mr. Bruno Roberts, Treasurer.
Rev. Charles Sweeting was elected President to succeed Rev. Dr. Cohn Archer. He served until August 2002.
In May 2002, Mrs. Kenris Carey was elected as President. An important milestone for Methodism was reached when Mrs. Carey was elected as the first woman as well as the first lay person to serve as President.
The BCMC is now comprised of 35 member churches, Queens College, (the oldest Educational Institution in
The Bahamas), The Bilney Lane Children’s Home, The Nurse Naomi Christie Home for Older Persons, Camp Symonette, Methodist Habitat and the St. Michael’s Pre-School.
In July 2006, The Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church became a member of the World Methodist Council at its meeting in Seoul, Korea.
An emphasis on evangelism, spiritual development, education, social outreach and pastoral care continues to guide the BCMC as we meet the challenges of ministry in The Bahamas in the Twenty First Century.
Bangladesh, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Nibaron Das Bangladesh, Methodist Church Visit Website
August 12, 1984 Rev. Nibaron Das (Bishop) started a Methodist Church at his Mohakhali residence with 12 believers gathered for worship. Since that day the church has grown with the work expanding to villages and many persons being baptized. There was tremendous financial crisis and traditional opposition very strong, but with patience and endurance the church grew. The priority and desire of the church is to extend the Kingdom of God to all people, languages, cultures and religions, and the commitment made to plant churches and establish the Methodist Church in Bangladesh is at great risk.
Priorities in northern Bangladesh included Dinajpur, Joypurhat, Naogong and Gaibandha where the tribal peoples are majority. Thousands of tribal people including Santal, Mahali, Orao, Mundari, Malo, Pahan live in these areas and they are very receptive to the gospel. Many Hindus live in the southern part, especially the districts of Gopalganj, Khulna, Jessore, Shatkhira, Narail and Faidpur. We asked God to open the door to this area to bring the people into His Kingdom, and now we have over 100 churches within these areas. Other areas where the church has expanded include Dhaka, Gazipur, Tangail and Mymensingh.
The Bangladesh Methodists are grateful to Korean friends who have extended their cordial cooperation. Without their fervent prayers and financial assistance it would have been impossible to continue the growth of the Methodist Church in Bangladesh.
The church has a total of 185 churches, 18,698 members. A theological training center, Kumran Bible School located at Kamalpur, was initiated by Kumran Methodist Church. The school currently named Methodist Theological Seminary has been upgraded and now has a three-story seminary building, which houses classrooms, dormitory, library, staff quarters and guest room. Accommodation capacity of the dormitories is 45 and over 30 courses are offered to students. Since 1992 120 students have graduated with degrees, and have ministered to churches in rural areas under the Bangladesh Methodist Church. Bishop Nibaron Das is honorary principal, with a manager and staff. The school continues to be supported by the Synpoong Methodist Church, Kumran Methodist church and Korean friends. The academic council hopes to offer a Bachelor of Theology curriculum in 2003.
Since 1984 a Church Plantation and Evangelism program was developed, and on July 1, 1997 a four-story Dhaka Central Methodist Church building was consecrated. Only a few years ago Bishop Das was a simple ordinary pastor of a small church but by the grace of God he has been chosen to become a senior pastor of the biggest church, also one of the biggest evangelical denominations throughout the 200 years of Protestantism and first bishop of Bangladesh Methodist Church.
Belgium, United Protestant ChurchContact: Rev. Steven Fuite Belgium, United Protestant Church Visit Website
The Belgium Mission of the M.E. Church, South was organized in Brussels in 1922 as the result of moves carried out by the Southern Methodist Centenary Movement (USA) at the close of World War I. Development of the work led to the organization of the Belgium Annual Conference in 1930. After a struggle for existence, Unification of American Methodism in 1939 found Belgian Methodism in a state of promising vitality, as shown by the strong delegation sent to Copenhagen for the European Methodist Uniting Conference in August 1939.
A few days after the close of the gathering, the Second World War broke upon Europe, and Belgium was again invaded, with Methodism suffering serious material and moral devastation.
Bishop Paul N. Garber arrived in June 1945 to inaugurate a successful eight-year reconstruction program, and in June 1946 the Belgium Conference was able to resume its regular annual sessions.
In 1952 the Central and Southern Europe Central Conference was organized, at which time the Belgium Conference reported 21 traveling preachers, eight local preachers, 17 charged with 25 churches, 3,410 members and four institutions.
December 1969 marked the union of the Evangelical Protestant Church and the Methodist Church to form the Protestant Church of Belgium. This replaced, to a large degree, the organizational work of the Belgian Annual Conference–which included Dunkirk, France.
In 1978, a second union took place bringing together the two Reformed churches (the Reformed Church of Belgium and the Reformed Church in Holland–Belgian Section) forming the United Protestant Church of Belgium.
The United Protestant Church of Belgium represents a small minority in a mainly Roman Catholic country of ten million people. With 110 local congregations the church’s contribution to the life of the country far outweighs its minority status, especially through its social and diaconal centers.
The Synod of the church has overall responsibility for the teaching of Protestant religion in schools and also administers chaplaincy programs to prisons, hospitals, army and airport.
The United Protestant Church of Belgium is affiliated with the United Methodist Church in the USA, having the status of a united autonomous church.
Benin, Protestant Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Nicodeme Alagbada Benin, Protestant Methodist Church Visit Website
The Church was founded in 1843 by Thomas Birch Freeman of the Methodist Missionary Society of London. Freeman, the son of a freed slave, also undertook pioneering missionary work in Ghana and Western Nigeria. The Church maintains its historical links with the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Administratively, the Methodist Church of Benin is organized in 15 regional Synods. It covers the whole of the territory of Benin from the southern coastline to the Niger border in the north. The Church is recognized as playing an active role in the life of the nation; it is involved in agricultural projects, in hospital and prison chaplaincy, in service to refugees; through its strong Union of Methodist Women it is directly concerned with the training of young girls and young women in rural areas, enabling them to have a basic education and to learn income-generating skills.
The Benin Methodist Church plays a leading role in the National Committee to Combat AIDS, but also, at local church level and through the women’s union, it works to promote AIDS awareness and prevention.
Ministerial training is pivotal part of the total mission of the Methodist Church through the Protestant University of West Africa (University Protestante de l’Afrique de l’Ouest -UPAO). Formerly the Institute of Protestant Theology, this centre which traditionally trains candidates for the pastoral ministry not only from Benin but also from Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Togo, Cameroon, Senegal and Gabon, acquired university status in 2004. The training of evangelists is undertaken at the Bible School jointly with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Togo. The Methodist Church is involved in the study of the traditional Religions and Islam and in dialogue with the Muslim community and other religions.
Bolivia, Evangelical Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Javier Rojas Teran Bolivia, Evangelical Methodist Church Visit Website
The Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia (IEMB) celebrated 100 years of work in Bolivia in 2006—an important event which served to bring together peoples from within and from outside Bolivia as a testimony to encourage us to continue our work. This work of evangelization started in the year 1906 with programs of education and health through the presence of missionaries from the Methodist Church in the USA. Later on the direction of the IEMB was assumed by national leadership.
At the present time, the IEMB works in an integrated manner in different areas of need with the population of Bolivia, principally with the poorest sectors in the cities and rural areas.
The IEMB is composed of 14 districts, 194 local churches and a membership of 9,190 which is served by a ministerial body of 37 ordained pastors and deacons. The mission, testimony and service of the IEMS is achieved through three distinct areas of responsibility: The National Office of Life and Mission is responsible for activities and programs of evangelization, theological education, Christian Education, Liturgy. Communications and programs with national organizations of women, youth and laypersons; The National Office of Services is responsible for Methodist Educational Service, Methodist Health Service and Rural Development; The National Office of Stewardship and Finances is responsible for the administration and finances of the IEMB.
One very important characteristic of the IEMB is its majority indigenous membership composed of Aymaras, Quechuas, Tupiguarinies, and other indigenous peoples of the Bolivian Amazon. The membership of the IEMB reflects Bolivian society which is made up of some 36 distinct ethnic groups.
In the city of Cochabamba in December 2004, the XVIII General Assembly of the IEMB conferred the responsibility of leadership of the IEMB for the quadrennium 2005-2008 on Rev. Lic. Carlos Poma as Bishop, and for the biennium 2007-2008, on Rev. Filiberto Ramirez as National Secretary Life and Mission, Dr. Rolando Yanapa as National Secretary of Services, and Lic. Javier Rojas, as National Secretary of Stewardship and Finances. One fundamental task with which these leaders have been charged is to produce a process of renovation and projection for the IEMB for a new stage of mission in Bolivia that takes into account the new historic and social challenges.
Another challenge for the IEMB is adapting the gospel theologically, ecclesiastically and pastorally in the socio-cultural context of the Bolivian population and ecclesiastic community. This means putting the Biblical message in a new context, a new understanding of the presence of God among the indigenous people and the search for a new pastoral model that responds to the adapted ministry of the church.
From the perspective of our historic Wesleyan heritage and in the spirit of Methodist connectionalism and ecumenical Christianity, the IEMB expresses its desire to continue developing its ecclesiastic ministry and pastorate. The EMS reaffirms its evangelical vocation of proclamation and criticism and its commitment to social service to the poorest and the marginalized in society. At the same time the IEMS asks for the solidarity and the participation of our sister Methodist churches who are also on the same road of common ministry: the building of the Kingdom of God along with its justice.
Brazil, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Adonias Pereira do Lago Brazil, Methodist Church Visit Website
In 1835, Rev. Fountain E. Pitts was sent by the Mission Board of the Methodist Church in the United States to visit some of the capital cities on the east coast of South America. Some of these visits resulted in the formation of small groups of Methodists. This was the beginning of Methodism in Latin America as well as in Brazil, as one of these groups was formed in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
In 1836, Rev. Pitts returned to the United States but his successor, Rev. Justin Spaulding, arrived in Rio de Janeiro in the same year. Rev. Spaulding’s ministry was characterized by his ample distribution of the Bible, an unheard of activity in this country, by his stand against slavery, and by the founding of a small school. These were forerunners of the two great emphases of Brazilian Methodists, education and preaching the gospel.
In answer to Rev. Spaulding’s calls for help, Rev. Daniel Parish Kidder was sent to Brazil in 1837. The two returned to the US in 1841, but left the way open for other missionaries who would come to Brazil after the Civil War in the US, a war that lasted from 1861 to 1865.
After the end of the Civil War in 1865, many families from the southern part of the United States immigrated to Santa Barbara do Oeste, in the state of Sao Paulo. Among these was Rev. Junias Eastham Newman who arrived in 1867. But it was only in 1876 that the Methodist Episcopal Church South (USA) sent the first official missionary to Brazil, Rev. John James Ranson. He established Methodist work in Rio de Janeiro. This was 35 years after the first attempt to organize a Methodist group in this city.
Bishop John Cowper Granbery, supervisor of the Brazilian Mission, came to Brazil in 1886 with the purpose of better organizing the work and creating an organization to legalize the properties of the mission. He authorized the transformation of the Brazilian Mission in an annual conference (expression similar to our ecclesiastical region). The work grew and in 1919 there were three annual conferences: the North, the South and the Central Conference.
The Brazilian Methodist Church became autonomous in 1930 and elected its first bishop, William Tarboux, an American. The first Brazilian Bishop, Cesar Dacorso Filho, was elected in 1934. A strong leader, his episcopacy left a profound mark on the church.
The 1938 General Conference approved the founding of a theological school in Sao Paulo. It was 1942 before this school came into being by uniting the theological courses already in existence at Granbery Institute in Juiz de Fora (MG) and at Porto Alegre Institute (RS).
The Methodist Church in Brazil developed the ecumenical spirit of Wesley and therefore became the first church in Latin America to become a member of the World Council of Churches. This organization was formed in 1938, but due to the Second World War, it only was officially recognized in 1948.
The Methodist Church, at the present time is divided into six ecclesiastical regions, one missionary region of the Northeast (REMNE) and one national mission field located in the North and Northwest (CMNN). Today, the church has 144,000 members and approximately 360,000 participants.
The legislative organization is the General Conference. There is an Administrative Board (COGEAM), authorized by the General Conference, to administrate the Church according to the guidelines and orientation contained in the documents of the church. In COGEAM there are bishops, clergy and lay people. Each ecclesiastical region and missionary fields have one bishop. For the first time, there was a woman elected as
bishop. The eight bishops compose the College of Bishops, responsible for pastoral and doctrinal guidance of the church. There are four executive national coordinations: Administrative, Missionary, Educational and Social. The last General Conference was in 2001. For the first time, there was a woman elected as bishop.
These basic documents are Canones (the church Disciplines), the Social Creed, the Plan for Life and Mission of the Church and the National Guidelines for Program. In addition to these, the College of Bishops produces Pastoral Letters to orientate the church on pastoral and doctrinal unity and action.
Bulgaria, United Methodist Church *Contact: Supt. Dr. Daniel Topalski Bulgaria, United Methodist Church *
The first Methodist missionaries came to Bulgaria from the US in the middle of the 19th century, and were received hospitably by the Turks who ruled the country at the time. But they did not merely set up new congregations. It was also one of these missionaries, Dr. Albert Long, who translated the whole Bible into Bulgarian, thus making the Word of God accessible to the Bulgarian population in general for the first time. By choosing the East-Bulgarian dialect fort his translation he tremendously influenced the Bulgarian literature of the following 50 years and even the creation of an official national language. In the years that followed, girls’ and boys’ schools were founded, contributing to the literacy of the country. However, in spite of the success and significance of this early pioneering work, the history of the UMC in Bulgaria in the following decades was like a roller coaster, and, often enough, the Church had to fight for survival.
The period of Communist rule from 1947 to 1989 began with a terrible persecution of all Churches in the country, and was an especially dark era. Many pastors were beaten, thrown into prison for long periods, or even murdered. A law implemented at the time nominally provided for religious freedom, but in reality it rendered practically all Church work impossible. All Email between the UMC in Bulgaria and the international Church was prohibited.
Following the political opening of the country in 1990, only two of the original sixteen congregations still existed, and the pastors were either old and frail, or had already passed on. In spite of this, the UMC was able to reorganize, and relations were renewed with the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe and with the supervising bishop.
Since then, the Church has been growing continuously, thanks to God’s grace and the tireless efforts of many lay people and a few pastors from the new generation. In many places where earlier Methodist congregations once existed, new work is being done after an interruption of many decades.
In carrying out missionary and service work, the UMC in Bulgaria has not forgotten that it has been a minority church since its founding. For one thing, this is reflected in the fact that it makes a point of spreading the Gospel to minorities, such as Turkish gypsies, Armenians, and Rom. Moslems (after decades of atheist teachings, this denomination is more an ethnic and cultural reference than a religious one) also learn about Jesus Christ in personal talks, evangelization meetings, and film viewings.
The goal of spreading the Gospel in word and deed is the motor for many social projects such as soup kitchens, literacy courses, out-patient clinics, prison work, creative or play times for neglected children and youth, etc. Samuel Altunian, one of the young pastors, says: “It’s impossible to imagine being a Church in Bulgaria today without providing these services for the poor and the minorities.”
At the same time, the importance of the literature projects should not be underestimated. These support not only the printing and distribution of Bibles, but also practical guides for the reader.
It may not show outwardly, but many members of the UMC in Bulgaria are very poor. The massive economic changes since 1989 have, for the most part, worsened their situation. Thus the existence of the Church and its credible service among the people continue to present a challenge that should not be underestimated.
Canada, The United ChurchContact: Rev. Ken Peters Canada, The United ChurchPartners in Mission Unit Visit Website
The United Church of Canada came into being on 10 June 1925, bringing together the Congregational, Methodist and most Presbyterian (71 per cent) churches in Canada. In 1968, the Canada Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church joined the Church. The UCC has 573,424 members in over 3400 local congregations in Canada and Bermuda, with another million or more adherents.
Methodism was established in Canada as early as 1765 by Laurence Coughlan, one of Wesley’s preachers, who went from Ireland to Newfoundland. The various branches of Methodism in England and the United States in due course established themselves and by 1884 they were all united to form the Methodist Church of Canada. The United Church of Canada is the inheritor of the Wesleyan tradition in Canada and is a member of the World Methodist Council. The United Church is non-episcopal in character and is governed by a conciliar system.
The United Church of Canada has a history of involvement in justice issues both in Canada and overseas, much of this coming from its Methodist and Reformed traditions of caring for people who suffer economic and social injustice.
Canadian society is multicultural and multifaith. It is a culture in which the pervasive economic worldview impacts relationships, values, identities, and understanding of church. integration through free trade and continental security arrangements. Through advocacy and outreach the church ministers to those marginalized in this economy of exploitation, in addition to providing the traditional ministries and pastoral care. A growing area of work is with ethnic ministries and integration of churches brought to Canada by new immigrants; ministries in French are also an important focus. The church also has oversight of eleven theological schools, five United Church-related colleges or universities and four education centres. Commitment to global justice is expressed through work with overseas partners in some 38 countries with whom we partner in ministry, education, and development work, sharing people and resources in God’s mission, including acting and advocating in solidarity with those most affected by systemic injustice.
Continuing the traditions of the earlier denominations, the Church has spoken out strongly and consistently on controversial issues, including Aboriginal justice and the legacy of abuse in church-supported residential schools that housed Aboriginal students, systemic justice issues (race, gender, sexuality, economic inequalities, etc.), ecology, and the rights of refugees. In all such matters, educational resources are provided for church groups and official positions are made known to governmental or other agencies. Working in a framework of “whole world ecumenism” focused on the mending of the world, the church has also supported processes of interchurch and interfaith dialogue, and published important statements on Jewish-United Church and Muslim-United Church relations.
Through all these ministries, the United Church seeks to express the integral connection between Christian faith, care for creation, and commitment to social justice, remembering that “We are not alone; we live in God’s world.”
Caribbean and Americas, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Otto Wade Caribbean and Americas, Methodist Church Visit Website
Nathaniel Gilbert, lawyer, planter, slave owner and Speaker of the Antigua House of Assembly, was reading a pamphlet “An Earnest Appeal of Men of Reason and Religion” during a period of convalescence in 1758. The author was John Wesley, the result, the start of Methodist witness in the Caribbean. The following year Gilbert made the voyage to England expressly to meet Mr. Wesley, taking with him two of his slaves. The slaves were baptized and he was converted. On his return to Antigua he called his slaves to prayer and thus became the first Methodist preacher in the Caribbean.
Sugar was king and chattel-slavery was at its zenith when the first congregation of slaves gathered to hear about another Master who was their Savior and in whose service was perfect freedom. Here were the first stirrings of emancipation–in the soul of the people through the gospel that was preached, however it was preached, and whoever was chosen by God for the task. Methodism was therefore totally committed to the anti-slavery movement. It quickly became the Church for and of the oppressed. In the aftermath of emancipation it spread rapidly through the Caribbean and the number of Methodists grew by leaps and bounds. By 1884 the first attempt at church autonomy was made but it failed due to a combination of adverse circumstances – economic depression, the lack of indigenous ministry, difficulties in travel and communication and a dearth of lay leadership.
The experiment failed but the vision did not, and in 1967, with trained indigenous ministry and competent dedicated lay leadership as well as rapid developments in the technology of travel and communication and greater economic stability, another attempt was made. An autonomous church governed by one annual conference and organized in eight districts was inaugurated to witness to and serve not less than 25 different national entities, and to work with 13 different currencies.
Since its inauguration in 1967 The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas has been attempting to respond creatively to the missionary challenges of the region. A conscious attempt is being made so that the Church becomes more self reliant and in a more advantageous position to communicate the Gospel in word and action.
Central Africa, African Methodist EpiscopalContact: Bishop Paul J.M. Kawimbe Central Africa, African Methodist Episcopal
The African Methodist Episcopal Church came to Central Africa in the late 1800s and was officially established by the General Conference of 1888.
Those who played a significant role in the growth and development of the church include: Bishop Henry M. Turner, who was instrumental in accepting the Ethiopian Church into the denomination; the Rev. Hanock Phiri who was instrumental in spreading the church from Southern Africa to Central Africa; and the Rev. W. J. L. Membe who was instrumental in planning the church all over Zambia (formerly northern Rhodesia).
The various enterprises of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Central Africa include church centers and educational projects from day care to elementary and secondary schools. There was established in 1937 under the leadership of Bishop Richard R. Wright, Jr., the Wilberforce Institute of Higher Education and the R. R. Wright School of Religion. Both institutions have provided the leadership for church growth in this part of the world.
Central and Southern Europe Central ConferenceContact: Bishop Patrick Streiff Central and Southern Europe Central Conference Visit Website
The Central and Southern Europe Central Conference has its roots in the turbulent times before and after World War II. The Geneva area, formed in 1936, was elevated to a Central Conference and elected its own bishop in 1954. Since then the Central Conference was a bridge-builder between east and west and south. In the present history of Europe we uphold the connectional principal as a continuing task. Together we are ready to face the challenges of the future. The Central and Southern Europe Central Conference is composed of United Methodism in Albainia, Algeria/Tunisia, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic/Slovak Republic, France, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Republic of Macedonia.
Central Congo United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop David Kekemba Yemba Central Congo United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has undergone dramatic changes in the past few years, including reverting from the country name of Zaire to the earlier name, Congo. Because of the rapid growth of Methodism in this area there are now three Episcopal areas and three bishops.
Methodist missions in the Congo were initiated by the U.S. Methodist Churches, North and South. Therefore, until 1930 there were two Methodist areas in the Congo. Then the two groups in the United States united, one Episcopal area was formed in Zaire with the first Zairian bishop elected in 1964.
After hearing stories of political tension, travel difficulties and fact that more than one half of Africa Central Conference Methodists live in the country of Congo, the 1992 United Methodist General Conference authorized the Africa Central Conference to create the new Zaire Conference.
The country is nearly one million square miles in area and residents speak at least 36 languages. Church institutions include hospitals, serving a large network of dispensaries, pastors’ schools, a theological school, a technical school, many women’s schools, primary and secondary schools. The schools are under the direction of the government but staffed by Methodist teachers in church-owned facilities. Several agricultural and industrial projects are sponsored by the church.
Chile, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Mario Martinez Tapia Chile, Methodist Church Visit Website
Methodism arrived in Chile through the efforts of William Taylor in 1877-78. His self-supporting missions on the west coast of South America saw the arrival of missionaries from the United States, the establishment of schools and eventually the evangelization work in the Spanish language.
The mission came under the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1893, when the South American Conference was organized with Chile as one of its districts. In 1960 the Methodist Church of Chile became autonomous electing a bishop and adopting its own statutes and regulations.
At present the Methodist Church of Chile extends throughout the whole country. There are 126 congregations and preaching points with a membership of 17,600. There are 73 active ministers, one bishop and seven district superintendents. The educational, social and health ministries of the church coordinate the extensive work of institutions and programs in the seven districts.
The motto for this period is “opening spaces and places for the mission.”
Christian Methodist Episcopal ChurchContact: Bishop Paul A.G. Stewart, Sr. Christian Methodist Episcopal ChurchSenior Bishop Visit Website
The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was organized as the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America, December 16, 1870, in Jackson, Tennessee, by former slaves who had been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South during slavery but who, after their emancipation, realized that continued membership in the church of their former masters was neither desirable nor practical and requested their own separate and independent church “regularly established,” said Isaac Lane, “after our own ideas and notions.”
In accordance with disciplinary procedures of the times, and with careful attention to what was pointed to as the “desires of our colored members,” the 1860 and 1870 General Conference of the M.E. Church, South, provided the basic ecclesiastical, legal and practical means that enabled the colored members to, in the word of Lucius H. Holsey, establish our “own separate and distinct ecclesiasticism.” Several hundred black preachers were ordained deacons and elders; an official periodical, “The Christian Index,” began publication; five black annual conferences were established; delegates to a special General Conference empowered to set up a “separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction” were elected; the ordination of black bishops was authorized; and transfer to the new church of all properties that had been sued by slave congregations was sanctioned. On December 21, 1870, William H. Miles of the Kentucky Colored Conference and Richard H. Vanderhorst of the Georgia Colored Conference-the two black preachers elected by the delegates-were ordained bishops by Robert Paine, Senior Bishop of the M.E. Church, South. At the close of the Organizing General Conference Bishop Paine transferred Episcopal supervision to Bishop Miles with these words: “The time has come for us to resign into your hands the presidency of this body, and the Episcopal oversight of your people. And we now do it. Take this chair…. henceforth you are their guides and governs.
The CME Church rapidly emerged as one of the more influential churches in African American communities throughout the South. Beginning with approximately 78,000 members, competent leaders, several hundred congregations, and title to hundreds of pieces of church property, it had, by the turn of the century, expanded beyond the Mason-Dixon Line following black migrations to the North, Midwest and the Pacific Coast. After World War I, the CME Church was established wherever significant numbers of African Americans were located.
After World War II, as CMEs found themselves in more racially inclusive communities and the civil rights struggle intensified, the term “colored” took on the stigma of discrimination and Jim Crowism. Consequently, in 1954 the name was changed to the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
The CME Church now has 886,000 communicant members and 3,000 congregations throughout the United States, and conferences in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Haiti and Jamaica. It is divided into ten Episcopal districts, has 34 annual conferences and ten active bishops. It sponsors four colleges and a Theological Seminary.
Church of the NazareneContact: Dr. David P. Wilson Church of the Nazarene Visit Website
The Church of the Nazarene emerged from the 19th century Wesleyan-holiness revival after three regional bodies in the North America united in 1908: the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America, stretching from Nova Scotia to Iowa; the Church of the Nazarene extending from the West Coast to Illinois; and the Holiness Church of Christ, reaching from Georgia to New Mexico. Two were products of earlier mergers. The united church’s original name – Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene-was shortened in 1919 after the term “Pentecostal” (a synonym, to the founders, of “holiness”) had acquired new meanings.
The Pentecostal Mission (U.S.) and the Pentecostal Church of Scotland united with the Nazarenes in 1915. Later accessions included the Layman’s Holiness Association (U.S.), the Gospel Workers of Canada, the Calvary Holiness Church (Great Britain), and an indigenous Nigerian body also bearing the name Church of the Nazarene.
The church’s doctrine is Wesleyan. Nazarene’s affirm the reality of original sin but emphasize Christ’s universal atonement and prevenient grace; justification by grace through faith; sanctification likewise by faith; entire sanctification as God’s gracious opportunity for believers; and the witness of the Spirit. The church practices the sacraments of baptism (by sprinkling, pouring or immersion) and the Lord’s Supper. Parents may request infant baptism, but believers’ baptism predominates. Members admitted by profession of faith agree to observe the general and special rules of the church, which include refraining from tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
Nazarene policy blends congregational, presbyterian and episcopal elements. From American Methodism the church derives its concepts of general and district superintendency, the quadrennial general meeting, and its book of discipline (called the Manual). Nazarene ordination practices also reflect Methodist roots: elders are elected to orders by peers and ordained by a general superintendent, who is joined by other elders in the laying on of hands. A congregational element is reflected, however, in the local church’s right to call its own pastor, while a presbyterian element appears in the district’s right to elect its own superintendent.
The Nazarene district assembly meets annually, electing its superintendent, receiving reports from churches, electing candidates to elder’s orders, and periodically electing equal numbers of lay and clergy delegates to General Assembly.
The General Assembly elects the general superintendents (who serve until the next General Assembly) and the members of various boards. It enacts legislation binding on churches and districts throughout the denomination.
It also elects the General Board, which meets annually and supervises, with the Board of General Superintendents, the church’s World Mission, USA/Canada Mission, Evangelism, and Sunday School agencies and the International Board of Education.
Internationalization shapes contemporary Nazarene life. The church exists in local, district, and general (international) levels, not at the national level except for certain legal purposes. The 12,598 Nazarene churches worldwide are grouped into 386 districts, one fourth of these in North America, where about half the church’s 1.4 million members live. The church is presently organized in 138 world areas. There are 13,203 ordained elders, 436 permanent deacons, 5,881 licensed ministers, and 747 missionaries.
Bible and liberal arts colleges are supported on every continent, and graduate schools of theology are located in Kansas City and Manila. The Nazarene Publishing House has operated in Kansas City since 1912 and is helping establish regional publishing houses in other world areas.
Colombia, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Juan Alberto Cardona Gomez Colombia, Methodist Church Visit Website
Various attempts at establishing the Methodist Church in Colombia were not able to succeed in demonstrating the spirit of unity that characterizes a Christian mission and is part of the Methodist family. Bishop Isaias Gutierrez V., first to set foot on Colombia in 1982, had been previously informed of the work done by Bishop Armando Rodriguez of Cuba and Bishop Joel Mora of Mexico. The work begun by Pastor Gustavo Tibazosa Quiroga had run into serious obstacles, which finally led to its breaking into two independent groups.
Finally, in 1989, the “Methodist Christian Community in Colombia” was created. Headed by Pastor Luis Castiblanco, his marked Wesleyan accent became known throughout the popular neighborhood, Chapeinero, within the city of Bogota. They established two churches; however, there were too many obstacles in their path to further spread their work. Nevertheless, this expansionist yearning finally became possible with the arrival of the Rev. Manuel Grajales and his wife to the City of Armenia in the year 1996. Welcomed with jubilation by the United Methodist Church in the USA, Pastor Grajales managed to initiate work in Calarca with new strength. He was also able to Email evangelic leaders of great evangelic zeal and who were appreciated by the Methodist Church, its doctrine, identity, strong educational and social emphasis, its ecumenical opening, among other distinct expressions.
In February of 1997, Bishop Isaias Gutierrez V., President of CIEMAL, visited them for the first time. He has since realized consecutive visits to all of the works thus established in Colombia and has presided over assemblies and district gatherings, especially since the return of the Grajaleses to the United States for health reasons in 1998.
Presently there are two defined regions: the Capitol District and the Western District. The Capitol District’s work in the Chapinero neighborhood has great possibilities for extension, for which we are looking for resources. This work embraces health and social service programs as well as numerous ecumenical Emails that bring prestige to their work. The Western District includes churches and missions that have established in the Eje Cafetero: Calarca, Armenia, Pereira; in the Cali Valley: El Lido, Floralia, Agua Blanca, Los Laureles, more than one mission in the Northern Neighborhood of Cali; in Palmira; and the Church in Neiva by brotherly relationship. Their educational work comprehends an elementary and secondary school for 300 children along with the “John Wesley” Academy for long distance degrees. They are also hoping to establish an arts and business school. The social work consists of an open center for 200 very poor children, two day care centers, a welcome house, and a rehabilitation center for young drug addicts.
We have an integrated ministerial staff, composed of 15 pastors and seminaries, numerous lay leaders and a community of 1,300 participants.
We give thanks to God for being part of the Methodist Church in Colombia, called on to be an expression of a new rising amidst our convulsed society.
Costa Rica, Evangelical Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Dr. Luis F. Palomo Costa Rica, Evangelical Methodist Church Visit Website
The Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica has been part of the United Methodist Church for many years. In 1973 under the permission of the General Conference, our church obtained its autonomous status, being actually affiliated to the United Methodist Church.
Our country has a population of 3,500,000 inhabitants. Catholicism is the official religion of the country, however, Protestantism has a very significant influence in our society. The church in Costa Rica has at this moment 90 local churches and 45 preaching points, and an average of 9,500 members, attending community of more or less 12,500 people.
During the last six years our emphasis has been the development and training of laypersons and pastors under a deep knowledge of the word of God and also awareness of our Wesleyan theology. This has produced a major compromise with Christ as personal Lord and Lord of the life. For the next years under the same dynamic of education we believe we can raise 2,000 or more local churches, around the whole country. If we want compromise with the communities the local churches are a very important vehicle to present the total and integral evangelism to the human being.
In accordance with the modern world, with all its positive and negative implications, with firmness we believe that the love of God for humanity, in Christ is the response for a restoration of life and a transformation of our society. For the authority Christ gives to the church through the Great Commission, is our agreement to increase evangelism, the love, God’s holy grace, is an action that continues, living in faith and hope for all human beings.
We believe that our lives must be consecrated totally in agreement with Christ and also our witness as disciples must be daily living, in this way we can affirm “the world is my parish.” We thank God for the Methodist movement and for the Methodist family around the world. The Methodist heritage we have is enough to share with our brothers and sisters in sorrow, in adversity and in the hope in Him.
We continue serving Christ as Lord, through our resources, through our gifts and abilities, through our local churches and institutions.
Our work of revival, of growing, of presence we support in continued obedience and consecration to Jesus Christ. Only in this way we can do the will of our Father, in a complete guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Cote de Ivoire, United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Benjamin Boni Cote de Ivoire, United Methodist Church Visit Website
Three very important stages have marked THE installation of the Protestant Methodist Church in Cote d’Ivoire.
Pre-Missionary Periods: Towards 1890: The presence of migrated African Methodists English-speaking colonies, such as Liberia, the former Gold Coast (present Ghana), Sierra Leone. Most of them traders who settled along the Atlantic coast, at Assinie, Grand-Bassam, Grand-Lahou just to mention a few. They created the first Methodist communities. Their first temple was opened towards 1895. 1914-1915: Great evangelical success of the lower coast by William Wade Harris, a lay preacher who was a Methodist Episcopalist from Liberia. He predicted the arrival of white missionaries. Missionary Periods: 1924: The arrival of the first English missionary, Rev. John Platt from Dahomey and Togo where since 1842, the London Wesleyan Society of Methodist Missions had been. The Cote d’Ivoire Colony was therefore declared overseas mission field. To Wards 1930: Cote d’Ivoire was raised into a circuit attached to the French West African District with Dahomey and Togo. 1947: Cote d’Ivoire was raised into a district attached to the British Methodist Conference. 1963: Internal autonomy – the first Ivorian chairman in the name of Rev. Samson Nandjui was installed in his duties on the Methodist Mission jubilee in Cote d’Ivoire in 1964 when The Methodist Conference of Cote d’Ivoire became autonomous from the British Methodist Conference and was renamed the Protestant Methodist Church in Cote d’Ivoire. The membership numbers about one million (adult, youth and children together) on an Ivoirian population of 13 million inhabitants. Number of local churches, 847; ministers, 76; evangelists, 28. There are 5 districts, 10 Methodist zones; 19 circuits; and sections dealing with area and sectional counseling, local church and Methodist class meetings. Five departments of the church which enlighten the spiritual, socio-economic, cultural and religious life: the Department of Enlightenment and Formation, dealing with the laymen and ministers’ formation mixed with the enlightenment of doctrine and theology, of music and liturgy; the Department of Evangelization and Communication, which deals with strategies in terms of evangelization with as support the mass-media service or communication comprising the radio, television, written press and literature; the section dealing with Islam-Christian in Africa, Cote d’Ivoire Service; the Department of Youth deals with formation and guidance of the urban youth, the student youth rural youth, labor youth; the Department of Deacons and Works cares for all the problems of the society comprising —all works of life (hospitals, prisons, the military and paramilitary, family education, student education, the world of job, thc unemployed refugees, infant problems, etc.; the Department of Development and Patrimony, deals with investments like buildings and rural areas, and with vocation works of women, the church action for women.
Social Institutions include: the Protestant Hospital of Dabou built in 1965 with a capacity of 150 beds; the Protestant Institution for Education and Formation with the Methodist schools (primary and secondary schools); the Protestant Student House situated not far from the National University, student house for all nationality and religions; the Methodist Youth Center for Activities; the Harbour Fraternity situated at Abidjan Harbour, base of the ministry of urban and industry; the John Wesley Center of Dabou welcoming center of continued formation and training of the church workers, open to all confessions and denominations; the Orphan Home of Dabou; the Welcoming Center for the Blue Cross, center for disintoxication and of re-education and social insertion of persons victimized by alcohol and drugs.
External relations: The Protestant Methodist Church of Cote d’Ivoire has a relationship with other Protestant
and Catholic Churches of Cote d’Ivoire of the West African Subregion and the whole Africa, and the world in general, but in privileged manner with the Methodist church in Britain as partner.
Short and long projects include the intensive formation of pastors at the School of Protestant Theology of PortoNovo 9 Benin) and at the faculty of protestant Theology (Cameroun) and the realization of a Superior Institute of Theology for the initial and continued training of all workers of the church.
Croatia, United Methodist Church*Contact: Supt. Wilfried Nausner Croatia, United Methodist Church* Visit Website
Beginning in Zagreb 1923, various missionary initiatives worked to build Methodist congregations in Croatia. This work was carried out in the Serbo-Croat language, in contrast to the Vojvodina region (now part of Serbia), where there were many thriving German-speaking and Hungarian-speaking congregations at the beginning of the 20th century. The missionary efforts in Croatia were, however, not particularly successful, and were eventually discontinued.
On the other hand, the Methodist Church maintained various congregations in Istria (e.g. in Pula), which belonged to Italy. But when Istria became part of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1947, this work, too, was discontinued.
Peter Zunic, a native Croatian, heard the call to missionary work in his former homeland during his studies at the Theological Seminary in Reutlingen, Germany. In 1995, he and his wife Heidi travelled to Split, Croatia. There they began to approach people with a message of hope and with deeds of love, and in this way worked to revive the work of the UMC in this country. Through their efforts, and often through seemingly coincidental encounters, a network of relationships sprouted. From this, a small but growing congregation with faithful and dedicated members has developed.
Along with regular evangelization work in the center of Split (sometimes in cooperation with other evangelical congregations), the production of Christian literature is an important part of the work here. The devotionals and other literature produced here (e.g. a Croatian translation of a compendium of John Wesley’s sermons on the Sermon on the Mount) are treasured and used far beyond the bounds of the Church and the country. Also, Peter and Heidi Zunic have made Email with a nearby orphan’s home, and regularly organize activities for the children, such as excursions, movies, etc.
Still, in an environment that is almost exclusively Roman Catholic, missionary work is very difficult. Time and again, people who find themselves in personal emergencies open themselves to dialogues with the Methodists and demonstrate a basic openness toward God, but turn away when they discover they are dealing with a Protestant church. They are afraid of being considered traitors to the Croatian people.
In the last years, concrete efforts have begun for activities in other cities in the Adriatic coastal region. But in Sibenik, too, the work is just beginning, and is proceeding very slowly.
For structural reasons, the Methodist work in Croatia is under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of the UMC in Central and Southern Europe in Zurich. But the congregational leaders also have a good relationship with their Methodist brethren in Macedonia and in Serbia.
Cuba, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Ricardo Pereira Cuba, Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, USA, opened work in Cuba in 1883 through Cuban Methodists residing in Florida. The first church was organized in Havana that year with 194 members. The Spanish-American War interrupted this flourishing work, and it was not until 1898 that American missionaries were sent to Cuba, and Bishop Warren A. Candler, of the Florida Annual Conference personally visited the island. The Cuban Mission was organized in 1907; a Mission Conference in 1919; and the Cuba Annual Conference in 1923. At Methodist Unification in 1939, the Conference became a unit of the Southeastern Jurisdiction. In 1964 the General Conference passed an enabling act to allow the Cuban Methodist Church to become autonomous if it so chose. Autonomy was declared on February 2, 1968, and Rev. Armando Rodriguez elected as the First Cuban Bishop.
During the past few years a lot of new members have helped create almost 200 new congregations in the church, plus the 120 that were founded by the Cuban and American missionaries. The current membership is close to 13,000 and other 50,000 are attending church, although they are not yet members. More than 100 pastors work full time in preaching the Gospel. Methodists in Cuba hope to win “Cuba for Christ” through their evangelistic work. They are praying for opportunities to print Christian literature in Cuba and broadcast radio and television programs with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church has been trained to reach large numbers of people.
Since 1969 the church has been self-supporting. There is well organized work with women, youth, young adults, men, and activities in the area of Evangelism, Christian Education and leadership development. Twenty-three students are currently studying at the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary, to become pastors, and seven others are studying in Garrett Evangelical and Perkins Seminaries, in the United States.
Together with Methodists in the United States, the Caribbean and Central America the Methodist Church in Cuba participates in studies and projects of missionary work in countries in the region where there is no work of the Methodist Church. Recently, Bishop Armando Rodriguez (retired) and his wife Alida were appointed as Cuban missionaries to Honduras, the only Latin American country where there is no Methodist church.
Czech Republic, United Methodist Church*Contact: Supt. Petr Prochazka Czech Republic, United Methodist Church* Visit Website
In 1920, missionaries from the US-based Methodist Episcopal Church, South began their work in Czechoslovakia. They organized evangelization meetings, distributed Bibles, and provided emergency services to the people, who were still suffering from the consequences of the First World War. This work led to the founding of various congregations and to the birth of the UMC in Czechoslovakia. In the early years, the Church grew rapidly. Later, the young Church experienced very difficult years, at first in a financial sense, and then for political reasons. Yet in spite of persecution and oppression by the state, from restriction of activities to the arrest of pastors, rays of hope always managed to shine through.
At the end of 1989, the political changes in Eastern Europe suddenly offered many new opportunities for Christian service in a highly secularized society, and the UMC was still there, with renewed missionary zeal that soon led to the founding and growth of new congregations. For the most part, the new members were young people who were hearing the message of the Gospel for the first time, and who with their enthusiasm brought a strong new dynamic into the Church.
The political separation of the country in 1993 and subsequent founding of the Czech and Slovak Republics did not separate the Annual Conference. The UMC in these countries has undergone structural adaptations, but is still organized as an annual conference with two districts.
The growing congregations in the Czech Republic are confronted with many social challenges. The fact that the country joined the EU in May 2004 has not changed this situation. But these needs are viewed as an opportunity to spread God’s love. Because of this, they often lead to a new engagement fort the Kingdom of God and to programs which also try to alleviate the material needs of the people. For example, one emphasis of the UMC in the Czech Republic is the work with drug addicts (this includes a comprehensive preventive program in youth groups and schools). Other areas of emphasis include multifaceted youth work and support for prison inmates, the homeless, single parents, and the handicapped. This work lends credibility to the Gospel message and helps people to find Christ.
Denmark, United Methodist Church **Contact: Rev. Jorgen Thaarup Denmark, United Methodist Church ** Visit Website
Near the middle of the 19th century the Methodists in New York purchased an old ship and anchored it in the harbour as a mission for the thousands of Scandinavian immigrants and sailors who were coming to America. It was called the Bethel Ship and its pastor was Olaf Gustaf Hedström, a Swedish sailor, who had been converted in America.
In 1858 Christian Willerup, a Dane who had been converted on the Betel Ship, and was serving as superintendent in Norway, was released to become an evangelist in all the Scandinavian countries.
During a family visit to Copenhagen, Christian Willerup began public meetings. The first congregation was established in 1859, and in 1865 the church received official approval by the state, according to The Royal Constitution. It was first in 1911 that Methodism in Denmark had grown substantially enough to receive status as an Annual Conference. At the time there were 53 pastors, 27 congregations, 127 preaching stations and 3,634 members.
Now the number of members is declining. The main challenge that the UMC faces today is that of changing from a survival mode to a mission mode. Many churches are holding on to what they have rather than taking the risk of new ways of thinking and doing ministry. Another challenge is to strengthen youth work.
Dominican Republic, Evangelical ChurchContact: Bishop Alejandro Figueroa Dominican Republic, Evangelical Church Visit Website
In the 1800s and early 1900s British missionaries gave distinguished service in the Dominican Republic, although there was a period of legal restriction on non-Roman Catholic worship.
American Methodists came to the Dominican Republic in 1885, when a Dominican layman visiting Puerto Rico was converted. He returned home, witnessed to his neighbors, and a Methodist church was born. In 1920 Methodists, United Brethren, Presbyterians, and Moravians united to form the Board of Christian Work which has been called the oldest piece of cooperative denominational work in the world. They have an excellent bookstore, daily vacation Bible schools in the summer, nationwide evangelistic campaigns each year, and medical clinics which serve hundreds of persons weekly.
The Dominican Evangelical Church is self-governing with its own charter, constitution and doctrinal statement. Membership is reported to be growing rapidly.
East Africa Annual Conference of the United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Daniel Wandabula East Africa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church Visit Website
Long before the United Methodist Church in Burundi was known under this name, it was called World Gospel Church. As early as 1835, missionaries working in Burundi came together and agreed to subdivide the field geographically as an evangelistic strategy for their ministry. Friends (Quakers) took the central region of the country while the Free Methodists extended their work from the mid southeastern part to the west. The World Gospel Mission was left with the east. It opened its field in 1938 with Kayero in Rutana province as its first mission station. By that time Rutana was still a district of Ruyigi Province. In that process the World Gospel Mission extended its activities to Buhonga, Murehe and Murore, located in eastern Burundi.
Missionaries led the church for four decades. After a long struggle for indigenous leadership, a national was elected and consecrated as Bishop of the World Gospel Church in 1980. The church switched to the Evangelical Episcopal Church, Burundi for international recognition. Two years later, the Evangelical Episcopal Church in Burundi sought to become the United Methodist Church.
In May 1984 General Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, the Evangelical Episcopal Church in Burundi became a part of the United Methodist Church worldwide. In August 1984, Burundi Annual Conference became a part of the Africa Central Conference.
After a military coup in 1993, Bishop and Mrs. Ndoricimpa have lived in exile in Kenya, keeping in close communication with the church in Burundi by fax, telephone calls, and visitors from Burundi. The exile community in Kenya has opened a hospitality center for Burundi refugees, and Bishop Ndoricimpa has taken the lead in establishing a Burundi international peace committee. Burundi has experienced conflict between Hutu and Tutsi tribes, with more than 200,000 people reported to have been killed since 1993. While in exile, the church in Burundi has experienced growth and development, with its mission expanding into Kenya, Sudan Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. These areas now make up the East Africa Annual Conference.
The United Methodist Church in Burundi is the second largest religious denomination there. With its multi-ethnic character both in leadership and membership, the church has demonstrated for some time that the conflict is unnecessary. Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been instrumental in negotiations for ending the civil war, and both leaders and members of the church are actively working for peace in their land.
East Angola, United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Jose Quipungo East Angola, United Methodist Church
Ecuador, Evangelical United ChurchContact: Bishop Silvio Cevallos Parra Ecuador, Evangelical United Church
The United Evangelical Church of Ecuador grew out of the work of the United Andean Indian Mission (northern and southern Presbyterian, UCC and UM) and the Church of the Brethren. These two missions began work in 1946 and 1947 with indigenous communities.
In 1960 the UAIM began steps toward organizing congregations, and the Brethren were forming a small denomination, with a total membership in both groups of about 500, in 10 congregations. A Latin American Mission Board, representing Methodists and Waldensians, was considering work in Ecuador.
A study commission of these three groups recommended to the United Andean Indian Mission and the Brethren in November 1962 that they form a United Church, and to the Latin Americans that they work with this group. All groups accepted the proposal. In 1965 the dream of a national church was realized, and Latin American Methodists sent their first missionaries. In 1966 a Center of Theological Studies was formed to train local leaders of the United Church and other churches.
Twelve years later there were 16 congregations with a membership of about 1,000. The road has been difficult, but there have been positive steps. The old categories of missionary, pastor and layman have given way to co-worker. The evangelical “ghetto” has been broken, with Christians discovering anew the world, and a gospel for the total person. We have accepted the cost of discipleship and are learning how to confront the challenges of a modern world.
The church went through a crisis growing out of loss of confidence in leadership, poor administration, and abuse of authority. In 1976 the church named new leadership and began to move forward.
Estonia, United Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Taavi Hollman Estonia, United Methodist ChurchDistrict Superintendent Visit Website
Methodism in Estonia began in 1907 through two lay preachers Vassili Täht and Karl Kuum who started preaching on the island Saaremaa. During that time Dr. George A. Simons from the USA led the work in St. Petersburg.
The first congregation was founded in Estonia in 1910 and two years later the first church was built in Kuressaare on Saaremaa. From 1911 to 1920 the Methodist work in Estonia was a part of the Russian Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1921 the Baltic and Slavic Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was founded with headquarters in Riga, Latvia. In 1924 the Mission Conference was turned into Annual Conference with 46 local churches, 29 pastors, and 1639 full members in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
In 1940 the Baltic countries became parts of the Soviet Union. During World War II the people and Methodist work suffered great losses. Thanks to God the Methodist Church in Estonia survived the Soviet period (in Latvia and Lithuania the Methodists virtually disappeared). After regaining our independence in 1991 the Methodist church had 17 local churches.
In 2005 the church has total membership of 1700, 26 congregations with many of them in new places and newly built churches. The number of clergy is 47. The church is very active in outreach work (e.g. organizing summer camps, publishing a magazine “Koduteel” and Estonian “Upper Room” edition). Alpha courses are arranged, as well as Disciple courses. Mission trips have taken place to Finno-Ugric nations in the former Soviet Union. Challenges facing the church include training of leadership, mission and evangelism and older buildings in need of repair.
The church runs social projects (e.g. soup kitchens and children’s Care Center “Lighthouse”). Children’s work has a high priority.
It has its own theological seminary with over 100 students, many of whom are from other denominations.
The Methodist Church holds membership in the Estonian Council of Churches and the Estonian Evangelical Alliance.
Fiji and Rotuma, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Tuikilakila Waqairatu Fiji and Rotuma, Methodist Church
The history of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma is closely related if not synonymous with the history of this relative young South Pacific nation. It was the missionary zeal and highly disciplined evangelical thrust that saw the members of the Wesleyan Missionary Society penetrate the islands of Fiji, beginning in October 1935. Since that time, Wesleyan Christianity has become well integrated into local culture of the indigenous people.
In April 1854 the then paramount chief of Fiji, Ratu Seru Cakobau was converted to Christianity. Following this conversion, many people openly confirmed their faith in the gospel. This gospel has become a significant pillar in the maintenance of Fijian society.
When British rule was introduced in 1874, the government became the third strand in the new orthodoxy which evolved as the embodiment of Fijian consciousness. These three strands are commonly known as Vanua (way of the land), Lotu (Christianity), Matanitu (state). Throughout these last 160 years, the Methodist Church in Fiji has enjoyed the close working together of these three strands.
1879 saw the coming of Asian Indians. They were imported as indentured laborers for the sugar cane industry. They had come with their religion, language, culture and customs. The Fiji home mission responded to the Indian challenge in Fiji by setting up the Indian Mission in 1892 to address their condition of work and witness to the loving care of God. Work lapsed until Ms. Hannah Dudley arrived in October 1897.
Dudley Church and Dudley High School stand as testimony to her devotion and commitment to he cause of the gospel. Membership of Indo-Fijian Methodists is 2,243 out of a 213,000 Methodist population.
The Rotuman Mission was under the Fiji District of the Wesleyan Missionary Society since 1841. Rotumans on the island of Rotuma are predominantly Methodist. They have continued to grow in their number and persistence in faith in Fiji as well as in countries outside Fiji such as Australia and New Zealand. Rotumans in Suva, Fiji, have built one of the finest buildings with modern architectural art with a sitting capacity of 1,000.
In 1987, Fiji suffered two military coups. This event became an important turning point in the country’s political history. It placed the Methodist Church in a shaky and difficult situation. It was left with a crisis of identity. An authentic and clear witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is now called for in order for the church to recapture its identity. The Church is convinced that it must continue its missionary obedience, availing itself to assist in any way possible to become an instrument of peace, justice and unity in our multi-coloured society.
Strong challenges from new religious groups, enthusiasts and spirited cults are among the new forces the church faces today. The spiritual life of our people at the grass root level is maintained, affirmed and renewed in the church’s worship. The evangelical disciplined faith has always been a feature of the spirituality of the Fijian people. As the church moves on to the third millennium, the challenge still stands to seek new ways of witnessing to the lordship of Christ in a new pluralistic situation.
Finland, Finnish United Methodist Church **Contact: Rev. Pasi Runonen Rev. Nils-Gustav Sahlin Finland, Finnish United Methodist Church **District Superintendent Visit Website
On the Finnish side of the Bay of Bothnia, Methodist preaching began to be heard by 1859 and the years to follow. Gustaf Lervik, a coxswain who had returned to his homeland, began to preach in his home country after being converted aboard the Bethel Ship in New York. Later, the Bärlund brothers joined in as preachers. In the 1880’s, impulses from Sweden led to a new start for Methodism in Finland, and the first congregation was established in 1881. Methodism in Finland fell in under the Sweden Annual Conference and had status as a district under the leadership of Superintendent B.A. Carlsen. In 1887 the first Finnish-speaking congregations arose, and two years later B.A. Carlsen established a mission to Russia, with meetings held in St. Petersburg, leading shortly thereafter to congregational development. The Czar, who at the time ruled both Russia and Finland, gave official approval in 1892 to the Methodist Church in both states. The Sweden Annual Conference organized “The mission in Finland and St. Petersburg” during the same year. In 1907,
German-American Dr. George A. Simons (son of Frisian immigrants from Sylt, in Schleswig) was appointed as superintendent in St. Petersburg. The link to Sweden weakened, and under his leadership the work developed rapidly with ramifications for Russia and Estonia. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 put a stop to all possibilities for church growth, yet, in spite of opposition, the work continued into the 1920’s. The Methodist Church in Finland gathered for the first time as an independent Annual Conference in 1911. The church had 1,568 members. In keeping with the development in Finland after its independence, the work was separated in a
Swedish-speaking and a Finnish-speaking conference in 1923. Finnish-speaking Methodism suffered greatly during World War II, since 60% of its members lived in regions that were incorporated into the Soviet Union.
Today the Finland Finnish AC has 800 members and 9 congregations. Two of the congregations have seen a strong increase in membership and four congregations have regular work with children and youth. The economical situation is difficult.
The Finland Swedish AC has 1100 members and 14 congregations.. The church has decided that 2006-07 will be a Children’s Year and steps have been taken to focus on children’s and youth work. The economical situation is improving through prudent stewardship and an increase of tithing. The church is looking to the future with confidence.
Finland, Swedish United Methodist Church **Contact: Rev. Bjorn Elfving and Mayvor Warn-Rancken Finland, Swedish United Methodist Church **District Superintendents Visit Website
France, United Methodist Church *Contact: Supt. Etienne Rudolph France, United Methodist Church *
The first Wesleyan missionaries came to France from Great Britain via the Channel Islands in 1791. About sixty years later, the still relatively small movement was consolidated to form the French Wesleyan Conference. This conference remained in existence until shortly before the Second World War. Then, sixteen congregations voted to join the French Reformed Church. Six congregations in the southeastern part of the country broke away because they were unwilling to take this step. During the following decades, they continued to exist, along with two more congregations, as autonomous “Eglises Evangéliques Méthodistes de France” (EMF), and numbered about 1,500 members and friends.
Today’s “Union de l’Eglise Evangélique Méthodiste en France” (UEEMF) was founded in 1868, when the Evangelical Brethren in Germany sent a German-speaking American missionary to Strasbourg, for the purpose of initiating a German-speaking congregation there. Other missionaries from Germany and Switzerland came to the surrounding cities with the similar intentions. From these efforts, the nine congregations of Alsace-Lorraine developed.
In southwestern France, the missionary work began in 1926 among Swiss immigrants who had settled in Agen after the First World War. Eventually, the congregation’s clientele changed, and the work was carried out in French, as was also the case in Alsace-Lorraine. In the 1980s, missionary work of the congregation in Agen led to new initiatives in Fleurance and Mont de Marsan.
Although there had always been Emails between the EMF and the UEEM, for a number of reasons, the two churches have tightened their links significantly in recent years. In 2002, following intensive talks, it was decided to provisionally incorporate the EMF into the UEEMF, and thus into the Annual Conference of France and Switzerland. This decision was made definite in 2005.
Today, important areas of emphasis in the Methodist congregations include working with children and young people, conversation groups and creative groups for women, and missionary work and evangelization, as well as literature. However, the congregations are also aware of their heritage of social service and take this mission seriously, and work to help people at the personal level.
Chinese, Korean, and Cambodian congregations, which all have the status of associated congregations and which display an astonishing missionary dedication, meet in the buildings of the Methodist congregations.
Points of Email between Church and society include several institutions with which the UEEMF is affiliated: the Bethesda charity three homes for the elderly in Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Munster; the retreat center in Landersen, which has been through difficult times, but now looks to the future with renewed confidence; a
home for the elderly in Valleraugue; and diverse Protestant bookstores (CEDIS).
Together with the four congregations in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the congregations in France form the “District francophone” of the Annual Conference Switzerland/France.
Free Methodist Church -- USAContact: Bishop David W. Kendall Free Methodist Church -- USA Visit Website
The Free Methodist Church was organized in 1860 near Rochester, New York. Arising out of the conflict within the Methodist Episcopal Church over the Wesleyan interpretation of the doctrine of entire sanctification as well as issues such as slavery, free pews, secret societies, and freedom in worship, concerned ministers and laymen in eastern New York State encouraged Benjamin Titus Roberts to lead them in forming a new church.
The church is Wesleyan in doctrine and evangelical in spirit, evidenced by membership in the Christian Holiness Association and the National Association of Evangelicals.
Episcopal in nature, the church is organized into 12 general or provisional general conferences on 4 continents, each headed by a national bishop or bishops.
The Free Methodist Church sponsors both educational and benevolent institutions in North America and overseas. With headquarters at World Ministries Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, world membership stands at 395,000 with a total constituency of 650,000. The Free Methodist World Conference coordinates the ministries of the several jurisdictions.
Free Methodist Church of Rwanda (EMLR)Contact: Bishop Samuel Kayinamura Free Methodist Church of Rwanda (EMLR)
Free Methodist Church of the Democratic Republic of CongoContact: Bishop Josue W'elongo Lumelya Free Methodist Church of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Ghana, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Emmanuel Asante Ghana, Methodist Church Visit Website
The Conference of The Methodist Church in Ghana came into being in July, 1961. Formerly it had been an Overseas District of British Methodism. The pioneer Methodist missionary, Joseph Dunwell, landed at Cape Coast on January 1, 1835, and began work among the Mfantse-speaking peoples of the Coast, some of whom were already Christians. In the first eight years of the church’s life, 11 out of 21 missionaries who worked in the then Gold Coast died. Thomas Birch Freeman, who arrived in the Gold Coast in 1838, was the great pioneer of missionary expansion. Between 1838 and 1857 he carried Methodism from the Mfantse coast land to Badagry and Abeokuta in Niberia, and to Kumasi in the Asante hinterland in the Gold Coast. He died in Accra in 1890.
Methodist evangelization of Northern Ghana began in 1910. After a long period of conflict with the colonial government, missionary work was finally established in 1955, the late Rev. Paul Adu being the first indigenous missionary to Northern Ghana. Thirty-six years later, on November 10, 1991, the Northern Ghana District now Diocese was inaugurated at Tamale. Missionary work there includes agriculture and rural health services made possible by mobile clinic units.
Currently the connexion comprises 167 circuits in thirteen dioceses. The Methodist community continues to grow numerically. Between 1996 and the end of 1997, it increased by 30,057 bringing the total numerical strength to about 1.5m. Some of these members worship in interdenominational churches. There are 720 ministers (36 of whom are women), 3 full-time catechists, 112 lay evangelists and missionaries, 26,725 voluntary lay preachers and class leaders with pastoral responsibilities.
The church continues to be involved in educational work made up of 16 second cycle institutions (9,299 students), three mixed training colleges (1,734) and two specialist schools: Mmofraturo in Kumasi (for girls) and the school for the blind at Wa, Northern Ghana. Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Accra, an ecumenical seminary, continues to train ministers for Ghana Christian Council member churches.
There are two lay training centers in Kumase: the Women’s Training Center and Freeman Centre for Leadership Development. The small medical work started at the Wenchi Hospital in 1951 has expanded with the establishment of three clinics at Bamianko (Gwira), Amakom (Lake Bosomtwe), and Mo-Dega; a Nutrition Rehabilitation Center at Lawra, rural clinics in Asante, sponsored by the Kumasi Diocese Methodist Medical Association, and a Faith Healing Hospital at Ankaase in the Kumasi Diocese.
The church is actively engaged in the life of the nation. Ministers are seconded to schools, colleges, the armed forces, police, prisons, hospitals as chaplains, and to universities as lecturers/chaplains and district assemblies as members. There are a number of agricultural projects, fruitful interactions between the church and state on political issues and social problems such as HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. There is concrete cooperation between Ghana Methodism and the other member churches of the Christian Council of Ghana.
Great Britain, Methodist ChurchContact: Revd. Dr. Martyn Atkins Great Britain, Methodist ChurchGeneral Secretary Visit Website
This church sprang directly from the work of John Wesley (1703-1791) and his brother Charles (1707-1738), which was part of the Evangelical Revival of the 18th century. John dedicated himself to serious Christian living in 1725; they met with others at Oxford to form the Holy Club, also nicknamed “Methodists” because of their rigorous approach to Christian life. They were ordained deacons and priests of the Church of England and went to Georgia as missionaries. On the voyage they were greatly impressed by the faith of the Moravians.
They returned to England dissatisfied with their spiritual state. On May 24, 1738 in a room in Aldersgate, John felt his heart strangely warmed; Charles had a similar experience. After this new beginning, reluctantly following the example of George Whitefield they began open-air preaching, despite the opposition of bishops and hostile mobs. Societies were formed, first in Bristol in London and then in many places. Lay preachers were employed; a system of circuits was formed and from 1744 onwards there was an annual conference of preachers, a centralized system geared for mission. John traveled 250,000 miles and preached 40,000 times and by 1791 there were over 70,000 members and over 400 chapels.
John Wesley never intended his movement to separate from the Church of England, but in 1794 he gave legal status to his Conference and ordained ministers for America. Disputes about the status of the traveling preachers and the administration of the sacraments were resolved by the Plan of Pacification (1795) which was a decisive break with the Church of England. Divisions arising from the constitutional disputes and fresh revivals led to the creation of the Methodist New Connexion (1797), to the Primitive Methodists (1812), the Bible Christians (1816) and smaller groups which largely united in the United Methodist Free Churches in 1857. All except the Wesleyan Reform Union and the Independent Methodists united with the main body, the Wesleyans, to form this Methodist Church in 1932.
This Church, which covers England, Scotland and Wales, is the largest of the Free Churches in England. It belongs to the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland (CBBI) and other ecumenical bodies and takes part in over 300 local ecumenical projects. It serves local churches through a connexional team, with four coordinating secretaries responsible for church life, church and society, inter-church and other relationship and central services. It has 333 districts, each with a Synod, presided over by a ministerial chairman. It emphasizes education in general and training for varied forms of ministries, both lay and ordained. The traditional Wesleyan stress on evangelism, social concern and the struggle for justice is expressed in its involvement for education and service, with young and older people respectively, through NCH and MHA, its two main social work agencies, as well as many local mission projects in inner city and rural areas.
Our calling challenges the Methodist Church to respond to the present age, in its worship, learning and caring, service and evangelism. Its worship is a mixture of formal and free, with the Wesley hymns still important to a people “born in song”. Its commitment to prayer and bible study in small groups, to youth work, pastoral care and social outreach, are the main characteristics of a Church proud to celebrate over 250 years of Methodist witness and over 200 years of overseas missions as its contribution to the World Church. The rediscovery of Wesley’s message for today and the connection between our Methodist heritage and contemporary mission, as we prepare to celebrate the 300th anniversary of John’s birth (2003), is a vital part of its ongoing commitment to evangelical revival and the quest for holiness, personal and corporate, offering Christ to all through worship, witness, preaching and service.
Hong Kong, Council of the Churches of Christ in ChinaContact: Rev. Eric S.Y. So Hong Kong, Council of the Churches of Christ in ChinaGeneral Secretary Visit Website
The Church of Christ in China was founded in 1918 when discussions on unity by 17 mission societies formally started, and then in 1922 when its Provincial Assembly was held at Shanghai. In the midst of Anti-Christian Movement, it was born as an indigenous and church-union effort. Founding members included many denominational churches mainly from Presbyterian and Congregational traditions. Under the General Assembly, there were in 1928, 12 synods, 51 district associations, 585 local churches, 2,035 preaching stations, with about 120,000 baptized members. After 1949, linkage between the Council in Hong Kong and the General Assembly in Mainland China was cut off. Then the Hong Kong Council renamed herself as the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China.
There are 65 local churches 30 secondary schools (including 6 affiliated schools, 20 day schools and 4 evening schools), 26 primary schools, 6 kindergartens and 1 special child care centre. The number of baptized members is around 30,000 (figure of 2006). Through the educational and social service organizations, the Council serves more than 75,000 children and teenagers. There are six departments and committees in the Council: Church Affairs and Administration, Lay Training, Social Ministry, Theology, Education, Missions and Evangelism.
The Council encourages and assists the local churches to attain self-government, self-support and self propagation. It also promotes evangelistic work and social services, takes an active role in cooperative Christian organizations in the Hong Kong Christian community and participates in the affairs of the ecumenical church. The Council is a member of the Hong Kong Christian Council, Divinity School of Chung Chi College (in Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Chinese Christian Literature Council. It also joins some ecumenical bodies such as The Council for World Mission, World Council of Churches, Christian Conference of Asia, World Alliance of Reformed Churches and World Methodist Council. The Council also has good relationships with the Chinese Church in Mainland China and The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.
On 1 July 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region under The People’s Republic of China. The Council looks forward to the Church in Hong Kong continuing its witness through evangelistic work and social service organizations.
Hong Kong, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Tin-Yau Yuen Hong Kong, Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Church, Hong Kong is a self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating church incorporated by a private ordinance. It was founded on October 25, 1975 by amalgamation of the British-affiliated “The Chinese Methodist Church, Hong Kong District (Tsun To Kung Wooi)” and the American-affiliated “The Methodist Church, Hong Kong (Wei Li Kung Hui)” which commenced working in Hong Kong in 1884 and 1953 respectively. Though autonomous, it maintains close ties with British, American and other Methodists. It is a covenant church of the World Methodist Council, and is one of the founding members of the World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches.
Following the Wesleyan tradition, Methodism in Hong Kong has greatly relied on lay leadership. Local preachers and church leaders play active and vital roles in pastoral work and in formulating church policy. Today, the church has 3 circuits comprising 19 local churches and 7 chapels, with 23 active full connexional members (16 ministers, 3 deacons, 4 conference pastoral workers), 36 local church pastoral workers, 2 missionaries and a total baptized membership of 14,000. It also actively provides various types of social, educational and medical services. The church serves 17,000 students through the operation of 8 secondary schools, 9 primary schools and 11 kindergartens. It operates 7 social service centres, 4 day nurseries, 2 dental clinics, 4 camp sites and a book room.
The church is one of the most ecumenically minded Christian bodies in Hong Kong. It provides considerable leadership in the territory’s two most representative inter-denominational bodies, the Hong Kong Christian Council and the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union. It participates in global and regional ecumenical organizations.
The church is not large in terms of membership or human and financial resources, but has a balanced theological outlook and an integral view of mission. In 1989 it embarked on its mission in Macau, a Portuguese colony about 50 miles from Hong Kong, ministering to the needs of recent immigrants from mainland China. Since the early 90s, it has supported churches and seminaries in Mainland China, and Chinese-speaking churches in England. It has invited ministers of the United Methodist in the Philippines to come as missionaries to serve the increasing number of Filipino members who worship at the Methodist Church (English speaking). Experimental missionary projects have been launched in industrial areas to reach factory workers. This “Blue Collar Evangelism” is a boundary-crossing missionary undertaking from a predominantly middle class church to factory workers’ living situation. As Hong Kong experiences expansion of “new towns” in the new territories, the church is establishing footholds in some of these developing communities, running evangelistic programs and providing community services in school-premises.
Shedding its colonial past, Hong Kong has become part of China as a highly autonomous Special Administrative Region effective from 1 July 1997. Although the future poses great challenges, the church has decided to stand with the remaining majority and commit to God’s mission of building a just and democratic society by renewing its mission, enhancing its ministry and broadening its services to the community. It will strive to maintain the Wesleyan tradition of spreading the Gospel, running schools, serving the needy and supporting ecumenical projects.
Hungary, United Methodist Church *Contact: Supt. Istvan Csernak Hungary, United Methodist Church * Visit Website
The first Methodist missionaries came to Hungary from Germany and Austria in 1898. They were able to gain ground with their message relatively quickly, first among members of the German-speaking population, and soon among Hungarians, as well. The Methodist missions grew steadily, and soon comprised more than 1,000 members. But due to political developments following First World War (Trianon Peace-treaty, loosing two third of Hungary’s territory) only one congregation remained with one pastor and 100 members. The UMC strengthened in the 1920-ies again, a strong social work system was organized. Another crisis followed Second World War due to the deportations of the German speaking population and the resettlement of the Slovakian speaking population in Slovakia. In addition, all church institutions were confiscated by the state between 1946-49. Difficult years of restriction and isolation followed in the communist era for all the Churches, even the existence of the UMC in Hungary was threatened. All these and tensions within the church eventually led to a painful split in 1974.
But God called new people, who put all their energy into the mission of the UMC in Hungary in the 1970-80-ies. And the political changes of 1989 provided new opportunities. Suddenly, many new possibilities for spreading the Gospel in word and deed opened up. New dimensions were added to the work of the Church, and the congregations grew.
The fact that the UMC in Hungary provided a home for four congregations in Transcarpathia (Western Ukraine) for ten years and assisted them in such matters as training of lay workers, demonstrates that the Church was not only preoccupied with taking care of its own problems. (Since 2003, these four congregations have been part of the UMC in the Ukraine, and thus belong to the area supervised by the Bishop of Eurasia.)
The UMC congregations in Hungary continue to report growth in their missionary and charity activities. They produce TV and radio programs, work with children and youth, and each year organize a nationwide family summer camp which is attended by several hundred people. They are active in religious education in schools, and provide support for prison inmates and drug addicts. They run two homes for the elderly in Kaposszekcsö and Budakeszi, and have built a varied and comprehensive service for the Roma (agricultural extension service, literacy courses, pre-marital counselling, etc.). But above all, they organize regular evangelization meetings, in order to remind the people, by means of the Word and good music, of the One who, in the face of the major changes and insecurity of the present time, wants to give them new perspectives in life.
One happy result of these activities is also a challenge: many of the buildings being used have become too small and outdated, and many congregations are dreaming of new church buildings. They hope that when finances are available, step by step, these dreams will come true.
Beside its own work, the UMC in Hungary is also very active in ecumenical matters, and often assumes a leading role. Recently, the cooperation between six Churches with Wesleyan origins (the so-called “Wesley-Alliance”) has been especially fruitful in the form of a common training program for lay workers.
At the same time, the UMC in Hungary is under great pressure, not least of all due to the country’s recent entry into the EU. The government has repeatedly burdened the Church with new measures, such as large increases in the minimum wage and new standards in social institutions. But Church leaders are confident that their previous experience will once again be confirmed: We are not alone!
India, Church of North IndiaContact: Rev. Dr. Alwan Masih India, Church of North India Visit Website
Traces of the movement towards a union of Christian denominations (or churches) in India may be seen as far back as 1810 when William Carry called a conference of all Christian denominations at Cape Town for mutual sharing of missionary experiences on common problems. This movement became more visible in the famous International Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910, commonly acclaimed as the origin of the 20th century worldwide ecumenical movement. In India this movement began to take the concrete shape of “negotiations” for “organic unity,” or re-union of churches from the famous Tranquebar Conference of 1919.
The Church of North India is a united church which came into being as the result of a union of six churches on 29th November 1970. The six churches were: The Council of the Baptist Churches in Northern India, The Church of the Brethren in India; The Disciples of Christ; The Church of India (formerly known as the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon); The Methodist Church (British and Australian Conferences); The United Church of Northern India.
The Church of North India has a three-tiered organizational structure: pastorate, diocese and synod. A pastorate consists of one or more congregations under the care of a presbyter-in-charge. A diocese is composed of several pastorates under the pastoral care of the diocesan bishop. The synod is the highest legislative, supervisory and executive body of the Church of North India comprising all diocesan bishops, elected lay and ordained representation from the 23 dioceses.
CNI has 23 dioceses with over 3,000 congregations, and approximately 1.25 million members. Each diocese has a bishop. There are nearly 1,000 ordained ministers. The ordination of women came into existence in 1980.
CNI has about 12 degree colleges, 30 inter colleges, 150 secondary schools, 500 primary schools, three technical institutes, 2 agriculture institutes. It has nearly 61 hospitals and two nursing schools, which are taken care of by Synodical Board of Health Services. The Synodical Board of Social Services has been organizing and equipping people at the grass-root level to respond to present challenges.
The Church of North India is a full member of the World Council of Churches, the Christian Conference of Asia, the Council for World Mission, the Anglican Consultative Council, the World Methodist Council and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
The Union has not meant uniformity or absorption, of one church by another. The United Church cherishes and is enriched and strengthened by the diverse spiritual and liturgical heritages and experience of the former six churches which united. The unity in the Church of North India is a unity in diversity.
This United Church is also a uniting church. In the words of the Plan of Church Union in North India, the former six uniting churches are seeking the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, earnestly desiring the day when throughout the world, there shall be one flock and one Shepherd. Soon after the 1970 union, the Church established full communion with the Church of South India and Malankara Mar Thomas Syrian Church.
India, Church of South IndiaContact: Bishop Dr. R.J. Niranjan India, Church of South India Visit Website
The Church of South India is a United Church that came into existence on 27th September 1947. The churches that came into the union were the Anglican Church, the Methodist Church, and the South India United Church (which was a union in 1904 of the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches). Later the Basel Mission Churches in South India also joined the Union. The Church of South India is the first example in church history of the union of Episcopal and non-Episcopal churches, and is thus one of the early pioneers of the ecumenical movement.
The total population in the church is about 2.8 million in 21 dioceses, one of the dioceses being Jaffna in Sri Lanka. We have 10,114 congregations looked after by 2,244 ministers, 2,103 full-time lay workers and other honorary lay workers. There are 1,930 schools, 38 colleges, 51 vocational training institutions, 104 hospitals and clinics and 512 hostels for poor children. Most of these institutions are located in rural areas and serve a large section of the community irrespective of their religion or caste.
We endeavor to share the love of Jesus Christ with the people of India through: the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus; responding to human need through
our institutions and through emergency relief work; striving to build a more just society through community development projects and skills training programs for the marginalized and disadvantaged sections of the society; and, programs to care for God’s creation.
The Synod consists of representatives of the 21 dioceses and has its office in Chennai (Madras). The Synod officers are the moderator, deputy moderator, the general secretary and the treasurer. Each diocese is under a bishop and a diocesan council. The dioceses have a great deal of autonomy in initiating programs for evangelism, development and service. The Synod has several councils/departments to help the dioceses in their work.
We have a Women’s Fellowship, a Youth Movement and a laity Fellowship in all dioceses. An Order of Sisters is committed to a life of celibacy, prayer and service.
The CSI strives to maintain fellowship with all those branches of the church which the uniting churches enjoyed fellowship before the union. We are members of the World Methodist Council, the Anglican Consultative Council, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Council for World Mission, and the Association of Missions and Churches in South West Germany.
We are also members of the World Council of Churches, the Christian Conference of Asia, the national Council of Churches in India, and the Joint Council of CSI-CNI-Marthoma Churches.
India, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Taranath S. Sagar India, Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Episcopal Church began its work in India in the year 1856, when William Butler came from America. He began work at Bareilly.
The year 1870 marked the beginning of a new era in the history of Methodism in India. The famous evangelist William Taylor was invited to India to hold special revival meetings. It was this that changed the course of Methodism in India and led our church out of its provincial boundaries and made it a national factor.
The year 1870 is also remarkable in our history as the year that marked the coming of the first missionaries of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Two young ladies arrived that year: Isabella Thoburn, to start her wonderful work of education among India’s girls and women; and Clara Swain, to inaugurate medical work among the women.
We were, however, early led into an evangelistic work in the villages of Northern India that resulted in the baptism of large numbers of people from among the depressed classes. Thus started our mass Movement work, which has brought several hundreds of thousands of converts into our church in the rural areas.
In 1930 the Central Conference of Southern Asia elected Jaswant Rao Chitambar, as first national bishop, marking the beginning of a new era.
On August 15, 1947 India celebrated her first “Independence Day” making it a national holiday. The leadership of all departments of political life became Indian. In keeping with this, on the retirement of Bishops Pickett and Rockey on November 11, 1956, two new Indian bishops were consecrated, namely, Mangal Singh with his experience in schools and pastoral work coming from the Delhi Conference and Gabriel Sundaram with his years of experience in the educational work of the church. Thus all four of the College of Bishops for India were now Indians.
From October 31 to November 3, 1956 was celebrated the India Centenary of Methodism in Lucknow Christian College, marking the completion of 100 years of service. There was a stirring, instructive and inspirational programme ending with a very impressive Communion Service at which about 3,000 people partook of communion in unison and in solemn silence.
The Central Conference of 1976 resolved to consider the status of an Affiliated Autonomous Methodist Church in India with the United Methodist Church, USA. The Central Conference held on January 7, 1981 in Madras, did in fact reorganize the church and inaugurated the Methodist Church in India.
As the Church goes forward with its work a new era of vision and achievement has begun; we realize more fully than ever before the unchanging truth of the declaration; “Not by right, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” The theme of the First General Conference of the Methodist Church in India, “Looking Back with Praise, Looking Ahead with Faith.”
Aims and Objectives: The Methodist Church in India is the Body of Christ in and for the world as part of the Church Universal. Its purpose is to understand the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, to hear witness to this love to all people and to make them His disciples. Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit the church exists for the proclamation of the love of God, the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers and the redemption of the world.
In furtherance of this aim, it engages in evangelical, educational, medical, social, literary, agricultural, socio-economic, vocational, technical, industrial and other activities which are in harmony with policies, doctrines and Articles of Faith of The Methodist Church in India.
Indonesia, Methodist Church NorthContact: Bishop Darwis Manurung, M.Psi Indonesia, Methodist Church North
The Methodist Church began its services in Indonesia in the year 1904 by the coming of Rev. C. F. Pyekett to Indonesia from the Methodist Church in America. Then followed by the coming of Rev. Pakianathan, a Tamil race from Malaysia, in 1905. He was sent as a school teacher to Medan. Since then missionaries came from Swedia, to mention some names, Ragnar Alm, Eric Lager, also from England. To these days there are more than 10 missionaries from USA and Korea. Some of them serve in our Seminary, school and pastoring the English speaking congregation.
Since its beginning, the Methodist Church in Indonesia served congregations of various races and languages. Today there are about 13 languages and dialects used but all of them speak the national language “Indonesian.” The Methodist Church in Indonesia, in its mission, has built up school; kindergarten to university.
At present our church is serving from Aceh, at most western part of Indonesia up to Bali, Pontianak and Makassar-South Sulawesi. It is about 3,000 miles from Aceh to South Sulawesi, from East to West.
Our church has various ethnics and sub-ethnics along the Sumatera Island, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, they are Batak (five dialects: Toba, Simalungun, Dairi, Karo and Papak), Chinese (four dialects: Mandarin, Hockkian, Hakka and Cantonese), Tamil, Javanese and Nias.
The church has 12 districts and two annual conferences with two Bishops. More than one hundred preaching posts with almost the same number of Bible teachers/scholars added to the full congregations/churches. Eighty percent of the churches are in the rural area. There are still many areas to be reached by the church such as in the Karo highland, Dairi highland, Riau, Kalimantan, North and South Sulawesi, Batam, Bali, East Java, Central Java and West Java, which are new in mission.
We are in need of personnel and funds. We also attempt church mission among the poor community, especially in the rural areas. We are longing that our mission should reach more widely among our people, and at the same time communicate God’s love to them.
Therefore allow us to share with you our ministry in Indonesia, such as: palm oil project, clean water project, project of village agricultural education, coffee cultivation project, potato cultivation project, cabbage cultivation project, duck cultivation project, cage fish project, lay training center project, Methodist bookstore, church music, vocational project for girls, scholarship. We praise the Lord for the cooperation of churches in America, England and Korea.
Indonesia is a wide country with more than 85 percent non-Christian population. In reference to this, Bishop H. Doloksaribu says: “Not limit the area of our ministry where we have to go and where not to go” but “How far can you go.” This statement was inspired by Isaiah 4:2-3 and Matthew 19:19-20.
For the last 98 years our church has limited its ministry in the areas where the Methodist Church exists and never accomplished the vision to reach the other areas, especially the difficult, such as new frontier area. Church members are the best instrument for this project; because of their jobs they spread almost 60 percent of our islands. They can be a small terminal in their area. But they couldn’t do the mission by themselves. When they communicate with the local pastor, the local pastor can inform us; then we will send our pastor or lay preacher to that place to start mission work. This is the method we have used in many areas, and in ten years have moved 1,000 kms to the eastern part of Indonesia. Many islands and areas are still waiting for
We have started a new evangelism movement in another four islands: West Kalimantan, the capital city of Pontianak. A house and piece of land in Singkawang town, a two-hour drive from Pontianak, is used for evangelism. Hundreds of children join the movement every month, and more and more adults are coming. Riau, in the middle east area of Sumatra, has hundreds of islands where people mainly of the Malay tribe live in cities and villages. Initially the people only lived in five town areas, but in the early 80s hundreds of new villages were opened, and people moved to this area to start a new life. Missionaries were sent to this area and today we have 41 new preaching posts and churches located in the newly open villages some with permanent buildings. There are 12 pastors, and laymen and laywomen are asked to help pastor the congregations.
Bali, an island in East Indonesia, is known as a tourist area, with Hindu as the major religion. Christians in Bali have their own indigenous church. Methodism came to this area six years ago, starting a new evangelism movement in Denpasar. A rented house is used as pastronage as well as sanctuary, with more than 70 people attending Sunday worship. South Sulawesi: Makassar is the capital city of South Sulawesi, located in east Indonesia. Two preaching posts were started in 1999 with two pastors. Two houses were rented for two years and renewed every two years, each used as parsonage and sanctuary. We are sure that God will provide a piece of land.
Many persons living in big cities like Jakarta, Central Java, East Java, Sumatera have a Christian background, but they stopped going to church. This is considered an opportunity and all Methodist churches have pledged to multiply their ministry to the suburban communities. There have been 12 new Methodist congregations established and they hope to support at least 20 pastors, including the facilities that they need for their ministry.
Indonesia, Methodist Church SouthContact: Bishop Amat Tumino, M.Min Indonesia, Methodist Church South
Ireland, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Donald P. Ker Ireland, Methodist ChurchSecretary Visit Website
John Wesley made the first of his twenty-one visits to Ireland in 1747, finding 280 Methodists who had been gathered together in Dublin by pioneer lay preachers. The word spread very rapidly inwards and served to strengthen the Protestant witness in a country which is predominantly Roman Catholic except what is now known as Northern Ireland. The first chapel was opened at Dublin in 1752 and the first conference was held at Limerick in the same year. Emigrants from Ireland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were of immense importance in spreading Methodism to other parts of the world. They included Barbara Heck, Philip Embury, Robert Strawbridge, and Robert Williams, pioneers in the United States of America, and Laurence Coughlan, the founder of Methodism in Newfoundland. The Irish Methodist Church has one constitution throughout the Republic and Northern Ireland with a President of the Methodist Church in Ireland. The President of the British Conference, as the successor of John Wesley, presides, however, over the Irish Conference, and six Irish representatives sit as members of the British Conference. There are 222 congregations, 16,200 recognized adult members and a total community roll of almost 55,800. There are 130 ministers in active work and 60 retired ministers. Local preachers total 293, with 68 local preachers on trial.
Methodism has made an important contribution to Irish education, including the establishment of Wesley College in Dublin, Methodist College in Belfast, and Gurteen College in Co Tipperary-this last a college of agriculture. It has developed a wide-ranging social work service, largely through its five city missions in Dublin, Belfast, Newtonabbey and Londonderry, which control several homes for the elderly, hostel accommodation for needy men and woman, residential care for adolescents and day care centers for the elderly. An increasing number of churches in other towns provide a range of services on their premises, including luncheon clubs, community advice centers, pre-school play groups, practical help and work with the elderly, etc.
Together with other churches, the Methodist Church in Ireland is deeply concerned with the issue of reconciliation and peace in Ireland. Many of the ministers and people have taken leading roles on efforts to establish peace during recent years of community strife.
Kenya, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Dr. Stephen Kanyaru M'Impwii Kenya, Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Church in Kenya was planted in 1862 at Ribe. The church continued to grow and spread to other parts in the country. The church became autonomous in January 1967 and since then has engaged in evangelism and outreach. Currently the church has mission outreach in Uganda and Tanzania.
The church is divided into eight synods, namely, Singwaya, Pwani, Nairobi, Western Kenya, Nyambene, Miathene, Kaaga and Nkubu. Each synod has a bishop who presides over the synod while there is a connexional presiding bishop.
Our mission has continued to grow in scope. We are sponsors of other 200 schools, a hospital and many dispensaries. We also have agricultural training institutes, youth polytechnic, technical schools, special schools for the physically disabled and vocational schools. Our ecumenical cooperation has enabled us to have a united Theological College at Limuru. We also have Lavington United Church which is sponsored by the Methodists.
The church now has 205 ministers, 1,000 congregations with 300,000 members and a Methodist community of 800,000. We anticipate doubling our membership in the next five years. We have opened a Kenya Methodist University that will spearhead university education in our region. We have other programmes such as rural development programmes, community health, youth, women fellowship AIDs, lay training and family education. We are members of the All Africa Conference of Churches, National Council of Churches of Kenya, World Council of Churches and other fraternal bodies in the region.
Korea, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Ki-Taek Kim Korea, Methodist Church Visit Website
God, who precedes all human planning, so loved this calm land of the East that he sent a number of mission pioneers to proclaim the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. They were filled with the passion for saving the soul of Korean people and the Korean society. The first Methodist missionary was R. S. Maclay, of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Japan. He visited Korea on 24 June 1884 and obtained permission from King Kojong to do God‟s work in the field of „education and medical treatment‟. On Easter Sunday, April 5, 1885, Rev. H. G. Appenzeller, with H. G. Underwood, a Presbyterian missionary, arrived in Korea to “bring the Korean people to the light and liberty of God‟s children.” One month later W. B. Scranton, another American missionary, came to Korea with his mother, Mrs. Scranton. Soon H. G. Appenzeller and Mrs. W.P. Scranton founded schools and hospitals. In October 1895 the Methodist Episcopal Church South also began missionary work. Bishop E. R. Hendrix and Dr. C. F. Reid who had been working in China, entered Korea by the efforts of a Korean scholar, Yoon, Chi-Ho who became the first member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South during his stay in China. The Southern Methodist Church was especially interested in missionary work for women and sent Mrs. Campbell to Korea two years later.
From the beginning the Methodist Church made a great contribution to the development and modernization of Korean society by its active involvement in education, medical treatment and publication. A revival movement which occurred in Wonsan in 1903 and another in Pyongyang in 1907 became milestones of the explosive growth of the church. In 1930 the Methodist Episcopal Church North and the Methodist Episcopal Church South were united for form the independent Korean Methodist Church.
After World War II, the Korean Church was divided for a few years, but reunited in 1949. During the Korean War beginning in 1950, the Korean Church went through hardships with church leaders being kidnapped or executed and many church buildings destroyed. Since that time, the Korean Methodist Church has grown rapidly with a spiritual passion for lost souls of the Korean people. It has also promoted social reformation, human rights and mission work among urban laborers and farmers.
The Korean Methodist Church is committed to the task of evangelism and the realization of peace and justice in the world, and sends missionaries to other countries to share the Gospel. In the Korean Methodist Church there are 5,692 Churches, 8,415 ministers, and 1,508,430 members.
Latvia, The United Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Gita Mednis Latvia, The United Methodist ChurchDistrict Superintendent Visit Website
The Evangelical Association from Kõnigsberg District started evangelistic work in Riga, the capital of Latvia, in 1908, with the establishment of the first church in 1912. From this point, the work developed into the formation of congregations in Kuldiga and Liepaja. German Methodism started work in Riga with the appointment of George R. Durdis in 1910. This led to the establishment of the first Methodist church in Riga 1912. In 1911 the Methodists came into Email with a Moravian Brethren missionary who had founded the congregation in Liepaja, which in turn became a Methodist church. The Baltic countries attained independence after World War I, and the work developed rapidly, with American support.
The Incorporation of the Baltic countries into the Soviet Union after World War II was catastrophic for the Methodist church. Systematic persecution of pastors and congregations, as well as confiscation of buildings destroyed a great deal of the work. In Latvia, a small group of earlier Methodists remained, and in 1991 the Emails led to the reconstruction of the United Methodist Church of Latvia. Since then there has been growth and the operations have spread from the indigenous languages and people to the Russian-speaking population. Latvia UMC has status as District Conference within the Estonia Annual Conference.
The church has good relations with other denominations. The number of membership is growing and the church is happy by the fact that they have a new camp site, Camp Wesley, which was opened last year. Diaconal ministry is an important part of the church’s ministry.
Liberia, United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop John Genka Innis Liberia, United Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Church (now United Methodist) planted its roots in Liberia in 1822, by black immigrants from the Americas. They came to Christianize and educate the indigenous Africans and enlist them in the cause of Christ on the Continent of Africa. They sought and received missionaries in 1833. The late Rev. Melvin B. Cox was the first missionary to Liberia. In 1854, the missionaries organized the Liberia Mission Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It remained a missionary conference until 1964, when by an action of the General Conference, autonomy was duly authorized and Central Conference status was achieved.
In December 1965, the first session of the Liberia Central Conference was held at Mount Scott United Methodist Church in Harper City, Maryland County, Liberia. At this time the Rev. Stephen Trowen Nagbe, Sr. was elected bishop, the first Liberian to be elected and consecrated in Liberia (our indigenous soil). The Rev. Dr. Bennie Dequincey Warner was the second Liberian to be elected as a bishop in 1973 following the death of Bishop Nagbe. Bishop Warner was elected at the third session of the Liberia Central Conference held at First United Methodist Church of Lower Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Liberia, in December 1980, the Rev. Dr. Arthur F. Kulah was elected the third Liberia bishop. Bishop Kulah was elected at Miller McAllister United Methodist Church in Ganta City, Nimba County, Liberia. The election of Bishop Kulah came about because of the April 12, 1980 coup d’etat in Liberia and the departure of Bishop Bennie D. Warner who was also Vice President of the Republic of Liberia.
The Liberia Central Conference was dissolved in 1984 for the formation of The West Africa Central Conference, bringing together the Liberia Annual Conference, Sierra Leone Annual Conference, and the Muri Provisional Annual Conference. The United Methodist Church, The West Africa Central Conference brings three countries together (Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone). The history of present day Liberia dates from 1816 when the American Colonization Society, a private United States organization, was given a charter by the United States Congress to send freed blacks to the West Coast of Africa. The first settlers landed at the site of present-day Monrovia in 1822. In 1838, the settlers united to form the Commonwealth of Liberia, and on July 26, 1847, Liberia was declared an independent country, the first republic of Africa.
The Liberian Civil War in 1989-1997 caused much death, destruction of property and suffering for the Liberian people. For this reason, the church started ministries in the areas of relief, repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation. There will be additional church ministries in the next few years.
On December 16, 2000, at the Fifth Quadriennium Session of the West Africa Central Conference, Methodist Church, held in Monrovia, at the First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Dr. John Ginka Innis was elected on the first ballot as the fourth indigenous bishop and subsequently consecrated on December 17, 2000, thereby succeeding the Rev. Dr. Arthur F. Kulah, who superintended the church for twenty (20) years. He was formally retired in 2000.
The Rev. Dr. John G. Innis intends to take off from where his predecessor ended. He has, however, placed emphasis on vigorous and holistic evangelism, dynamic spiritual growth, and sustainable economic empowerment.
The United Methodist Church in Liberia operates United Methodist schools, including a university, seven senior high schools, nine junior high schools, and twenty-one elementary schools. The church also provides subsidies for 80 other schools operated by local United Methodist congregations. The church operates a full hospital at Ganta and seven clinics. The United Methodist Church is in partnership with the Lutheran Church in
the Phebe Hospital Project in Bong County. There are agricultural training farms at Ganta, Gbarnga, Gbason-town, Whiteplans and Decoursey.
The church is a full member of the Liberia Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches. The current membership of the United Methodist Church in Liberia is approximately 150,000. There are 690 pastors assigned to 481 local churches in 19 districts. The church affects the lives of a wider community of approximately 2.5 million people.
Lithuania, United Methodist Church **Contact: Rev. William H. Lovelace, Jr. Lithuania, United Methodist Church **District Superintendent Visit Website
The Methodist movement began at the turn of the 20th century with a spiritual awakening in a German-speaking community in Kaunas. The first Lithuanian-speaking congregation was created in 1923. By the 1939 Baltic and Slavic Conference, Lithuanian Methodism included seven active congregations. Following the Soviet occupation in 1944 all Methodist activity was forcibly stopped, congregations disbanded, and property nationalized.
In 1995 Methodists from Europe and the United States began to assist a small group of surviving Lithuanian Methodists in efforts to reorganize congregations and reclaim property. As of 2005 there are eleven congregations with a total of 485 members and 1,000 persons who participate regularly in Methodist activities. The congregations have active ministries of worship and teaching, feeding ministries, English instruction classes, economic development programs, and a drug and alcohol addiction help center in Birzai.
The churches are currently served by five Lithuanian pastors and five missionaries from Britain Sweden and America.
Lithuania celebrated the 10 years anniversary since the re-opening of the UMC in 2005. Many congregations have seen growth and a number are involved in building projects. Diaconal ministry is an important part of the church’s ministry.
Macedonia, United Methodist Church *Contact: Supt. Wilfried Nausner Macedonia, United Methodist Church * Visit Website
More than 130 years ago, missionaries from the USA laid the cornerstone for Protestant work in the territory of what is now Macedonia. Macedonian freedom fighters, trying to pry their country loose from the Ottoman Empire, also contributed to this early work. Captured and sent to prison in Thessaloniki, their hearts were changed, and after being released, they returned home with a new mission: to spread the Gospel.
However, the Methodist mission in Macedonia would never have developed so well without the faith and courage of “Bible women” who travelled to remote areas in spite of poor roads and the scorn, stone-throwing, and brutality of scoffers. These “Bible women” not only passed on the Good Word of the Gospel; they taught other women to read and write (which meant that these women could now also read the Bible), organized sewing groups and nursing courses, and provided people with help and advice in all sorts of areas. In nearly every place where the Bible Women were active, there appeared not just local schools, but also congregations.
Yet these newly founded congregations faced a high level of initial resistance, even though their members always worked for the good of the entire community. Their meeting houses were burned, and in the beginning, those who converted to Christianity were often thrown into prison. But the congregations survived this treatment. They still exist today, and they are growing!
For more than ten years, the UMC has been officially recognized by the Republic of Macedonia. So today, the Church is fighting a different kind of battle. The past years, with political unrest, war, and waves of refugees, have led to economic misery. Unemployment is around forty percent, and many people live far below the poverty level. So far, there is no viable social safety net (welfare payments of 30 Euros/month for a family of four don’t go very far). The mere expenses for groceries, firewood, and medicines are beyond the means of many people.
The congregations do what they can to counter this need in the name of Jesus Christ, with words of hope and deeds of love. In doing so, they overcome the nationalist tendencies by providing support to minorities. For example, in several places they have developed evangelization programs and social efforts for Rom, and organize regular international youth camps with participants from Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Germany, and the USA.
Institutional services and social support for individuals are equally important. Thus, with generous support from abroad, the UMC has built a social service center in Strumica, a city in the eastern part of the country. This center provides elderly, needy people with a warm meal each day under the auspices of “Meals on Wheels” and with additional assistance.
The very active and diverse dialogue with other Churches (Orthodox, Catholic) and religious communities (Jews, Muslims) is an important contribution towards a common, peaceful future of the country.
Today, Macedonia and Serbia are two politically independent countries, but the UMC congregations still form one organizational unit (Annual Conference) with two districts. However, due to the unfavorable economic situation, they are able to cover only about 10% of their own budget, and the lack of pastors is also a heavy burden, although this latter aspect is improving.
With great dedication and faith in God, the members of the UMC accept these challenges. The call to Paul in the Book of Apostles “Come here to Macedonia and help us!” is just as current now as it was 2,000 years ago
Malaysia, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Dr. Hwa Yung Malaysia, Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist work began in this area with the arrival of William F. Oldham in Singapore on February 7, 1885. He was accompanied by Dr. James M. Thoburn (later Bishop), Methodist missionary in India, and they were to undertake the first foreign mission work of the Indian Methodist Church. Dr. Thoburn preached the first sermon at the Singapore Town Hall the next day.
The work of the Methodists under Oldham grew in several directions. Linguistically the work begun in English was extended to Tamil, Chinese and Malay. Geographically, new work started in key towns along the Malay Peninsular. Methodism came to Sarawak in East Malaysia with the arrival of Methodists from China in 1901. Missionaries extended the work there. Work also started amongst the indigenous peoples in East and West Malaysia.
In 1950 Methodists in Singapore and Malaysia, Indonesia and Burma formed the South-Eastern Asia Central Conference, a part of the General Conference of the Methodist Church (USA). In 1968 the General Conference granted the constitution of the affiliated autonomous Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore.
The Rev. Dr. Yap Kim Hao was elected the first Bishop of the autonomous church in 1968. The Rev. Theodore R. Doaraisamy was elected in 1973 to succeed him.
In December 1976, the Methodist Church in Malaysia and the Methodist Church in Singapore were constituted following the formation of an independent Singapore.
The Rev. C. N. Fang was elected the first Bishop of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, serving for three terms from 1976 – 1988. The Rev. Dr. Denis C. Dutton was elected Bishop in 1988 and served for two terms. He was followed by the Rev. Dr. Peter Chio Sing Ching, elected Bishop in 1996. The current Bishop is the Rev. Dr. Hwa Yung, elected in 2004.
The Methodist Church in Malaysia is comprised of six Annual Conferences – the Chinese Annual Conference, Tamil Annual Conference and Trinity Annual Conference in West Malaysia; the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, the Sarawak Iban Annual Conference and the Sabah Provisional Annual Conference in East Malaysia – and one Mission Conference – the Sengoi Mission Conference. These cover the main language groups as well as some of the indigenous peoples of the country.
It has a membership of 98,000 adults and about 60,000 preparatory members below 16 years old. The World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford: 2001) estimates the total number affiliated with the Methodist Church in Malaysia at 230,000 persons. This makes it one of the three largest Protestant churches in the country.
Mexico, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Raul Garcia de Ochoa Mexico, Methodist Church Visit Website
History of Protestant work in Mexico has its roots in the 1810 independence movement led by dissident priests; introduction of Bibles in Spanish by 1826 and passage of the famous Civil Laws and Freedoms ratified in 1860 by the Benito Juarez government also played important roles in preparing ground for Protestantism.
All early Protestant missionaries founded their work on small groups meeting together to study the Bible. Out of such groups came some of the first pastors. For example, Alejo Hernandez was born into a wealthy family; his parents dedicated him to the priesthood at birth; seminary studies plus injustices involving the church caused him to turn this back on Christianity. He enlisted in the army to fight the French who were defending the throne of Mexico for Maximillian. Taken prisoner, Hernandez became convinced he needed to know more about the Bible. Later, in Brownsville, Texas, in search of a Bible and help to understand it, a recorded testimony tells how he felt himself moved in a way never before experienced. “I left weeping with holy joy.” With Bible in hand he returned to Mexico to share his new faith, but was turned away by family and church and forced to flee to Texas. In Corpus Christi a Methodist pastor invited him to form a class of Mexicans residing there; soon he was ordained deacon at the West Texas Conference in 1871 and assigned work in Nuevo Laredo. This was the first organized thrust into Mexico by Methodists; not the denomination but one Annual Conference.
Bishop John Keener, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, followed and purchased a “place for public worship” in February 1873. The Methodist Episcopal Church began work with a decision by the Council of Bishops in November 1872 to send Dr. William Butler who had previously served 17 years in India. Prior to Dr. Butler’s arrival, Bishop Gilbert Haven was sent to explore possibilities for work in December 1872. Returning to the USA in March 1873, he left four established congregations, preliminary work for several others and ground work for the purchase of the Gante Methodist Church in Mexico City.
On July 8, 1930, Methodism in Mexico became united and thus the Methodist Church in Mexico (Iglesia Metodista de Mexico) was born as an autonomous church. Its bishops are elected every four years. At present this church has six episcopal areas that cover 28 of the 30 states of the nation and the federal district. It has 150,000 members, 400 churches, and an estimated total Methodist community of 300,000.
It has a university, two theological seminaries, 150 centers of Theological Studies on Extension, 12 schools from kindergarten to high school, four social centers, two hospitals, two orphanages, two homes for the elderly, two clinics and one girls’ hostel.
Mozambique, United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala Mozambique, United Methodist Church
Late in 1990, the Igreja Methodista Unida em Mocambique observed the 100th anniversary of the beginning of church work in Mozambique. The theme of the celebration was, “One Hundred years of preaching the Gospel and witnessing through words and deeds without ceasing.”
The United Methodist Church in Mozambique had its beginnings in the southern province of Inhambane in 1890. From a small group the church grew steadily in spite of (or because of) persecution by the Colonial Portuguese, Roman Catholic government. After independence in 1975, the strong Marxist government closed and made it highly undesirable to profess the Christian faith.
The works of the churches continued, sometimes clandestinely, and were allowed to reopen in 1982 when President Samora Machel invited the churches to contribute to the development of the country.
A civil war which raged in Mozambique from 1976 to 1992 brought unbelievable suffering to the Mozambican people and during those years many people fled to possibly more secure places to live as internal refugees. They took the message of salvation and new churches were started and continue growing in places where the church never before existed.
Since 1982 the government authorities for the first time in history allowed the construction of new church buildings and although Mozambique is considered the poorest country in the world, the church members contributed to the construction of places of worship worthy of praise and thanksgiving.
The first Mozambique Bishop, Rev. Escrivao A. Zunguza, was elected in 1976. He worked during a hard time for the churches in Mozambique. He was called to work as a pacifist within the church and between the churches and government. In 1988 Bishop Joao Somane Machado was elected as the third Mozambican Bishop and continues to lead this rapidly growing church.
Since the year 2000 the church exists in the whole country, divided into two conferences: North of Save Annual Conference, constituted by 6 Ecclesiastical Districts with 3,500 members, and South of Save Annual Conference with 14 Ecclesiastical Districts and 115,000 members. Church programs include: evangelization and development programs; construction of churches, pastoral housing, schools; development of transportation and communications with superintendents and pastors to minimize the problem of lack of transportation and communication caused by long distances and lack of communication facilities; a program of perceiving the moral, social and religious values in society; support of all children’s programs; support of women’s programs; to create the self-sustaining church program that will be sable to carry its mission in very responsible and productive ways.
Myanmar, Methodist Church (Lower)Contact: Bishop U Saw Shwe Myanmar, Methodist Church (Lower)
The Union of Myanmar (Burma) is geographically situated in Southeast Asia, with an estimated population of 47.25 million. There are 135 national races of which the main ethnic groups are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. Buddhism is the religion of the population with 89.3 percent. Christianity is practiced by 5.6 percent of the people, Islam by 3.8 percent, Hinduism by .5 percent and Animism by .2 percent.
The Rev. James M. Thoburn (1836-1922) came to India and heard about evangelistic opportunities in Yangon (Rangoon), Penang and Singapore from the sailors. He frequently received letters for help from the Indian Methodists who had settled in Yangon, which he shared with William Taylor in America. Taylor could not come immediately so sent Robert E. Carter of Ohio to Yangon to begin the mission. Thoburn immediately went to Yangon to work with Carter and the Methodists there. On Sunday, June 22, 1870, they organized an English-speaking church with 29 members. Ms. E. H. Warner was sent by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society in 1881, Miss Mary McKesson in 1882, and a girl’s school was established and opened the same year.
In 1884 the Myanmar Methodist Church became a district of the South India Conference. In 1885 Singapore was added. In 1892 the Myanmar district became the Bengal-Burma Conference and on February 2, 1902 it became the Myanmar Mission Conference under Bishop F. W. Warne.
In 1950 the Myanmar Annual Conference was included within the newly created Southeastern Asia Central Conference, comprised of the Malaya, the Malaysia Chinese, the Sarawak, the Sumatra, and the Myanmar Annual Conference, up to 1964. Raymond L. Archer served as Bishop from 1950 to 1956, and Hobart B. Amstutz from 1956 to 1964. On May 8, 1964 the General Conference approved the Methodist Church of the Union of Myanmar to be autonomous. The Sixty-Second Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Lower Myanmar was held on October 5-19, 1964 and the Rev. Lim Si Sin was elected to be the first national bishop in 1965. Second bishop was Rev. U Hla Sein, elected in 1969; Rev. C. F. Chu was elected in 1980 as third bishop, and Rev. U Pan Doke was elected in 1984 as the fourth bishop. The Methodist Theological Institute was founded in July 1987.
Rev. U Mya Thaung was elected in 1989 as the fifth bishop. In February 1994 the Annual Conference was split into two groups, each headed by their respective bishops, Rev. U Mya Thaung and Rev. U Maung Than. After six years of splitting and bitter division, in the year 2000 the conference was reunited and the Reunited Special Conference was convened on July 5, 2000. Rev. Zothan Mawia was elected bishop and Rev. U Saw Shaw was elected General Secretary of the Methodist Church of the Union of Lower Myanmar Annual Conference. There are 25 local churches, six gospel centres, 6 districts, 31 full-time preachers including 21 ordained ministers, 2,102 members and 3,270 community.
Myanmar, Methodist Church (Upper)Contact: Rev. Zaw Win Hung Myanmar, Methodist Church (Upper)
The Methodist Church has experienced great distress during the past years, but God never forsakes his people, the church and his ministers. He guided and empowered by His Holy Spirit. The storm of hardship is over and all the districts are trying to do their best in order to grow year-by-year. The number of ministers and pastors are inadequate in all districts, so the administration including the work of societies and ministering communion were unable to serve regularly in some churches. More workers are needed.
The capital and centre district Mandalay has a home mission field at Yinmabin, Tamabingwa Villages. The people are Burmese and belong to Buddhism, which is a part of their culture. One of the strongest districts is Tahan. The Rev. Haokhojam and Rev. Lalmuana have opened the seventh district at Mindat.
Evangelists are working in Homalin District, the furthest and very undeveloped area, with bad communications and transportation. The church was founded in1937. Evangelists have tried their best to spread the Gospel, and have never given up. They need funds, supplies, clothing and literature for distribution.
Sami area, located in Southern Chin States, is a concern of the Conference Mission and Evangelism Committee. The Conference supports the workers allowances and other expenses.
Nepal Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Ratna Prasad Chapagain Nepal Methodist Church
New Zealand, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. David Bush New Zealand, Methodist ChurchGeneral Secretary Visit Website
Organized Methodism in Australia, as part of the Foreign Missions under the direction of the British Conference, dates from the appointment of the Rev. Samuel Leigh to New South Wales in 1815. This, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji were constituted “The Australian Wesleyan Methodist Connexion” with an Annual Conference, affiliated to the Parent English Conference, and the first conference was held in Sydney in the year 1855. The New Zealand Church separated from the Australian Conference in 1913 with the union of the Methodist Church of New Zealand and the Primitive Methodist Church of New Zealand and the first conference was held in that year.
New Zealand is a country with a population of 3,500,000. There are 9,473 Methodist Church members who worship as part of a Methodist Church parish. In addition there is a significant number of Methodist Church members who worship within a cooperative venture where the Methodist Church has combined with the Presbyterian or Anglicans or Church of Christ or Congregational Union congregation of a particular area. The establishment of cooperative ventures has occurred in many regions of the country and particularly in rural areas. These form over half of the parishes for which the Methodist Church of New Zealand is responsible.
At the annual conference in 1983 the church made a conscious decision to work toward becoming a bicultural church. In particular the church made a decision to take seriously the founding document of our nation, the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty was signed by Maori and Pakeha, and the church’s commitment to the bicultural journey affirms that partnership. For this reason we have adopted practices whereby the voice of the Tangata Whenua (the original people) is heard as equal with the voice of the Tauiwi (the people who came after). One of the outcomes of this recognition of partnership is that our church now seeks to make decisions using as much as possible a consensus process of decision-making.
At the 1989 conference, the following statement of mission was adopted for the people of Aotearoa/New Zealand who are associated with the Methodist tradition, both in Methodist parishes and in cooperative ventures. “Our church’s mission in Aotearoa/New Zealand is to reflect and proclaim the transforming love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ and declared in the scriptures. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve God in the world. The Treaty of Waitangi is the covenant establishing our nation on the basis of power-sharing partnership and will guide how we undertake mission.”
The mission statement becomes the basis on which the mission of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, Te haahi Weteriana o Aotearoa is carried out, and reflects the partnership we seek to embody.
Nigeria, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde Nigeria, Methodist Church Visit Website
The boundaries of Nigeria were fixed towards the end of the 19th century during the partition of Africa. Its immediate neighbors are Cameroun to the East, Chad to the Northeast, Niger to the North and Northwest and the Republic of Benin to the West. The entire South is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
The population is estimated at over 100 million. It is inhabited by people of various ethnic groups like Hausa, the Edo, the Ibo, the Yoruba, the Efik, Ibibio, the Kanuri and many others. The peoples’ religion is either Christianity, Islam or traditional religions.
Christianity, as it now exists in Nigeria, was established with the arrival of Thomas Birch Freeman in the country. On September 24, 1842, Thomas Birch Freeman, a Wesley Methodist Church Missionary, with two devoted helpers, William DeGraft and Mrs. DeGraft, landed in Badagry. They had come to Nigeria in response to the request for missionaries by the liberated people who had returned to Abeokuta from Sierra Leone and another request by James Ferguson, an ex-slave who had settled in Badagry. From the mission stations established in Badagry and Abeokuta, the Methodist Church spread to various parts of the country West of the River Niger and part of the North.
In 1893, the Revs. Fairley and Ben Showell, missionaries of the Primitive Methodist Church, arrived in Archibong Town from Fernando Po, an Island off the southern coast of Nigeria. From Archibong Town, the Methodist Church spread to various parts of the country, east of the River Niger and crossed to parts of the North. The church west of the River Niger and part of the North was known as the Western Nigeria District and east of the Niger and another part of the North was known as the Eastern Nigeria District. Both existed independently of each other until 1962 when they constituted the Conference of Methodist Church Nigeria. The conference is composed of seven districts – Lagos, Ibadan, Ilesa, Umuahia, Port-Harcourt, Calabar and the North. The church has continued to spread into new areas, established an Outreach/Evangelism Department and appointed a Director of Evangelism.
An Episcopal system adopted in 1976 was not fully accepted by all sections of the church until the two sides came together and resolved to end the disagreement. The two sides fashioned a new constitution which was ratified on May 24, 1990. The system is still Episcopal but the points which caused discontent were amended to be acceptable to both sides.
Methodist Church Nigeria now has 36 dioceses in contrast to its 7 districts in 1962. In addition to its concern for the spiritual life of the people in Nigeria, it also takes part in the social and economic welfare of the people. All its secular schools, like those of other denominations, have been taken over by the government. However, new schools are being established in addition to paying greater attention to Sunday Schools and chaplaincy services in public schools and other establishments. The decision to establish a Methodist University was taken recently. The church runs centers for the lepers at Uzuakoli and the mentally ill at Emudo Itumbauzo in Abia State, to mention a few. It also runs a model farm at Kaiama in Niger State.
Methodist Church Nigeria is headed by the Prelate, who is the head of the church and who presides over conference, the overall governing body of the church, which meets every two years to deliberate and take decision on all issues affecting the life of the church.
Presbyters with assistance of other ministers, administer the circuits and local congregations.
Nigeria, United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Arthur R. Kulah Nigeria, United Methodist Church
The Nigeria Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, separated into two halves by the River Benue, is located in the Northeastern part of Nigeria. It attained Conference status in 1992 and has its own resident bishop. The headquarters is in Jalingo, capital of the new Tabara State of Nigeria.
The first foundation for mission in Muri was laid in September, 1906, when the Reverend Dr. C. W. Guinter of the Evangelical church, a forerunner of the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) traveled up the Benue River to Ibi near Wukari. Guinter had come from the United States with four other missionaries to work for Jesus Christ in the Sudan – a region extending across Northern Africa, south of the Sahara.
In 1946, the Evangelical church became part of the newly merged Evangelical United Brethren (EUB). Mean while, the British Methodists were having trouble in staffing and financing their mission work in Nigeria while still recovering from World War II. So in 1947, the British missions on the southern side of the Benue River were merged with those of the EUB on the northern side.
From 1923 until 1954, the EUB Church in Nigeria had been run by the Missionary Council. In 1954, it became the Muri Regional Church Council. The foreign missionaries were brought under the same Church Council as the indigenous Nigerians.
In 1954, the first indigenous leaders were elected. After pastoral training, the first ordinations of Nigerians took place in 1958 and 1964. Four district churches were also created in 1964, two on each side of the river. Today there are 15 districts and 180 charges.
At the United Methodist General Conference it was resolved that the Evangelical United Brethren Church in Nigeria would become part of the West African Central Conference as “Muri Provisional Annual Conference.”
Bishop Arthur F. Kulah of the Liberia Annual Conference was appointed as Itinerant Bishop to Nigeria from 1984 to 1988. In 1989, he was replaced by Bishop Thomas S. Bangura of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. Finally, in May 1992, Nigeria became a full Annual Conference, and on August 14, Dr. Done Peter Dabale was elected as its first Resident Bishop.
In 1989, the church established its theological seminary at Banyam to prepare students for ministerial work and degree programs at other theological seminaries. The Kakulu Bible Institute in Zing and the Didango Bible School met our demands of evangelists.
An evangelical program in our Church is at work establishing new churches and directing annual workshops and courses for the clergy and evangelists.
The church sponsors programs in agriculture, rural health, rural development, women’s work, youth and aviation. We have been able to work harmoniously both at home and abroad for the success of church growth and development in Nigeria.
North Africa, United Methodist Church *Contact: Rev. Daniel Nussbaumer North Africa, United Methodist Church *
The work of Methodism in North Africa was started in 1908 by missionaries from the USA. Before Algeria became independent in 1962, there were no restrictions on church work in this country. Open evangelization was allowed. The Methodist Church owned church buildings, children’s homes and clinics. At that time, the Church in Northern Africa was organized as an annual conference, to which local pastors, lay preachers, and evangelists belonged. Then the country dissolved its ties to France. This was a historic juncture that had serious – and for many, painful – consequences. Many local Christians left the country, believing that there was no place for a Christian Church in an independent Algeria. Finally, eight years later, events followed which were to define the next period: half of the Methodist missionaries were deported, children’s homes and boarding schools were forced to close, and Church property was taken over by the state.
In 1972, the Methodist Church fused with most of the other Protestant denominations to form the Protestant Church of Algeria, and Methodist work in Northern Africa was reorganized as a district of the annual conference of Switzerland/France. This work also includes the cooperation of various churches in Tunis, Tunisia, with its emphasis on social services (delivering food, clothing and medicines), on assistance for immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and on the organization of ecumenical worship services and university Bible groups.
Today, the Christian Church is a tiny minority in Algeria, where Islam is now the state religion. Fairly recently, it was possible to run a congregation in an organized manner, in spite of state-ordered limitations (prohibition of public evangelization, prohibition of all activities not directly related to church work, prohibition of all services to Moslem children, youth and students). The political and religious developments of the past few years have not exactly made Methodist work any easier in this country.
However, there are worship services, Bible studies, weddings and baptisms. In Algiers and Oran, especially, these take place through ecumenical cooperation. More and more people are expressing their interest in the Christian faith. Through the social services supported by the UMC in Switzerland, a sewing school for deaf women in Constantine is run, which means that some young women are receiving a chance for a better future.
The training of local staff is a major priority of Church life today, because although leaders in the Methodist congregations in Algeria continue to maintain existing relations, they also hope to increase the level of local responsibility.
Structurally, the Protestant Church of Algeria is now constituted as a federation of Protestant congregations, in which Methodist personalities continue to carry out important leadership functions. However, this has no effect on the cooperation in personnel and financial matters between the Methodist congregations in Algeria and the Annual Conference in of Switzerland/France.
North Katanga United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Nkulu Ntambo North Katanga United Methodist Church
Northern Europe Central Conference **Contact: Bishop Christian Alsted Northern Europe Central Conference ** Visit Website
The Northern Europe Central Conference is devided into two Episcopal Areas: The Nordic and Baltic Episcopal area consisting of the United Methodist Churches in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, and the Eurasia Episcopal Area consisting of United Methodist Churches in Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). Information on each church is listed separately by country.
Northern Europe Central Conference **Contact: Jørgen Thaarup Northern Europe Central Conference ** Visit Website
Norway, United Methodist Church **Contact: Revs. Svein J. Veland, Steinar Hjerpseth, and Rev. Øyvind Helliesen Norway, United Methodist Church **District Superintendents Visit Website
In Norway, the story of Methodism began with seaman Ole Peter Petersen’s preaching in 1849 and the years ahead. In 1851, O.P. Petersen established the Norwegian-Danish Methodist Church in America. In 1856, Danish-American Christian Willerup was sent to Scandinavia as a superintendent in order to lead the church, which had emerged spontaneously. The first Methodist church was founded during the same year, thereby making the establishment of the Methodist Church in Norway a reality. In 1876 the church in Norway received status as an Annual Conference. There were 29 pastors, 19 congregations and 2,798 members, and the conference got its own superintendent, Martin Hansen.
The membership number has been declining for the last 50 years. The Annual Conference Council has therefore prioritized and recommended tools like Natural Church Development, Alpha and Walk to Emmaus in order to try to turn this development.
Pakistan, the Church ofContact: Bishop Rafiq Masih Pakistan, the Church of
The largest Protestant Church in Pakistan today is the Church of Pakistan formed on November 1, 1970 on All Saints Day. This was the union of four churches, the Anglican Church, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church and Lutheran. There are eight dioceses equivalent of the conferences of the Church of Pakistan.
Among those eight dioceses, two are areas of the Methodist work, Multan and Raiwind. The Methodist Church also contributed a lot in pastoral and evangelistic work in the Diocese of Karachi and Hyderabad.
Urdu is the national language spoken by the majority. All the church services are conducted in Urdu but the Diocese of Hyderabad is mainly an evangelistic diocese. The Hyderabad Diocese, among the eight dioceses, is involved in working among the Hindu Tribals.
The majority of the Christians are living in the rural areas of the country and they are working as landless farmers or working in brick factories as laborers. The Urban area Christians are working as sanitary workers, but very few doctors, engineers and educationists. Most of the educated people have left or are leaving the country as they don’t have a bright future.
The Church of Pakistan has served for many years through the hospitals, schools, hostels and vocational centers by training the boys and girls in carpentry, sewing and in other areas of earning. Hostels are also playing a big role in order to nurture boys and girls making them honorable citizens of the country.
Population of Pakistan is 140 million with annual population growth of 3.1 percent. Literacy rate is 24 percent female and 38 percent male. Infant mortality is 95 per 1000, with one doctor per 2000 people, and one hospital bed per 2110 people. Annual income per family is $200 rural and $350 to $380 urban. The main cities are Islamabad, the capital city, with 450,000, and Karachi, the largest city with 10.8 million.
Panama, Evangelical Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Pablo Morales Panama, Evangelical Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Church in Panama is the result of missionary efforts of Methodist ministers from the USA. There are two groups of Methodist churches in the Republic: the Evangelical Methodist Church of Panama (formerly United Methodist Church), a direct result of missionary efforts from the United States; and the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas, a result of British missionary efforts among the West Indian descendants who came mainly for the construction of the Panama Canal.
In January 1906 the first missionary couple, Rev. and Mrs. James Elkins arrived. By 1908 a small chapel had been built with the name of “El Malecon” (The Sea Wall Methodist Church). A small day school met on the premises, known as “Panam College.” The school has experienced rapid growth and there are over 4,000 students of elementary and high school level. There is a section known as “laboral classes,” for adults who have not completed their high school education.
Due to the continuing growth, the church dedicated much time to youth work, establishing youth camps and hostels.
There are eight organized congregations with membership ranging from 40 to 250 members, seven preaching points or missions, and present membership is approximately 2,000. Mission work has been established in Chiriqui among the Guyami Indians.
The church became autonomous in 1973 and has worked to develop national leadership in order to assume all church responsibilities.
Paraguay, Evangelical Methodist CommunityContact: Rev. Pedro Magalhães Paraguay, Evangelical Methodist Community Visit Website
The first Methodist worship gathering in Paraguay was held April 9, 1988. Two years earlier, Brazilian lay preacher Dr. Norival Trinidade and his wife Ruth had initiated missionary trips to Paraguay, pursuing a vision they had personally received from the Lord. The vision was shared by the Rev. and Mrs. Virgil Maybray from Wilmore, Kentucky (USA) and with a group of Brazilian clergy and laity.
The Rev. Pablo Mora Bogado and his wife Claudete, who pastored a church in Brazil at the time accepted the challenge and became the first resident missionaries to Paraguay. They arrived in the country in march of 1988. Together with the Trinidades, the Mora Bogados began the work. The second missionary couple, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Inglis, from Atlanta, Georgia (USA) arrived in Paraguay in July of 1988.
In an unusual form, the Methodist Evangelical Community of Paraguay was born national and autonomous with strong support from individuals, local churches and missionary sending agencies in the United States, Brazil and South Korea.
The first Methodist congregation was established in Asuncion, the capital. At the same time the first Korean congregation was planted, under the Korean Church appointed missionary Rev. Chul Ki Kim.
In 1996 there were 16 congregations in the capital and in ten other towns and villages. There were 1,300 baptized church members and 2,800 participants. A small 40-bed hospital and mobile clinic operate in the capital and small villages in the interior of the country. The church maintains an elementary school in a local Indian reservation and a Bible Institute for training local pastors and national leaders. Workers leading the churches include missionaries from Brazil, the United States, Korea and Paraguayan pastors and local preachers.
Paraguay is a unique country in South America, as its entire population maintained its native language. There are two official languages, Spanish, which was brought by Spanish settlers and Guarani, which is known as the ‘heart language’ of the people. There are also small groups of indigenous people with their own cultures and languages. The Methodist Church is looking for a way to reach out and to evangelize some of these, using native Christian evangelists for the task. One of the strongest congregations is located in one of the reservations of the Tobas. The church also maintains an elementary school and a small cooperative, having built a number of houses with them, connected the village with electricity, treated water and availability of permanent medical assistance.
Peru, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Jorge Bravo Caballero Peru, Methodist Church Visit Website
The first attempts to begin Methodist work in Peru were made by Rev. William Taylor (1877-1878), who tried to establish an autonomous mission church and schools, in the south of Peru where many immigrant workers from England and North America were contracted by the railway company.
The first attempt failed and was closed because of the Pacific war (Peru, Chile and Bolivia) and because many of the missionaries caught yellow fever and tuberculosis and some of them died.
After the war, mission work resumed, especially in the capital city of Lima and the most important seaport city of Callao. Rev. Francisco Penzotti, a colporteur of the American Bible Society, a Methodist minister of Argentinian-Italian background began to preach and to distribute Spanish-language Bibles to his neighbors in Callao. Because of this he was persecuted, imprisoned, and was in jail in Real Felipe from July 1890 to March 1891.
It was in this way the first Methodist Church of Callao was founded on July 10, 1889. It was the first evangelical Spanish-speaking church in Peru. The first Peruvian families who were a part of the “fellowship” were migrants from the rural areas of the country who were plumbers, backers, single mothers, widows—people who had left their roots and were alone. Marginalized by society, they found a warm welcome in the Methodist Church.
Rev. Thomas B. Wood arrived in 1891, and helped to consolidate the work of the church, founded two schools and helped in the struggle for civil rights (liberty of religion, right to civil marriage and against all forms of restriction of personal rights).
The first Peruvian ministers to be ordained were the Rev. Adolfo Vasquez, Jose Illescas and Ruperto Algorta.
The Methodist Church of Peru became autonomous on January 19, 1970. The church is composed of six districts with a over 5,500 members.
Large Methodist schools include: Colegio America del Callao, Colegio Maria Alvarado, Colegio Andino, Colegio America de la Victoria, Colegio Daniel Alcides Carrion, and an ecumenical center, Comunidad Biblico Teologica “Wenceslao Bahamonde,” trains church leaders and future ministers. In addition there are small local schools and kindergartens spread across the country.
Social work includes communal kitchens and feeding programs. Methodists in Peru try to find meaningful solutions to the needs and challenges that the circumstances of the country offer, acknowledging the Wesleyan theme that the “world is our parish.”
Philippines Central ConferenceContact: Bishop Rodolfo Alfonso Juan Philippines Central Conference Visit Website
The United Methodist Church in the Philippines has three episcopal areas: Davao Episcopal Area, Baguio Episcopal Area and Manila Episcopal Area. The Davao Episcopal Area has six annual conferences: Mindanao, East Mindanao, Northwest Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and Mindoro. The Baguio Episcopal Area also has six conferences: Central Luzon, North Central Luzon, Northwest, Northeast, Northern and Pangasinan. The Manila Episcopal Area also has six annual conferences and one provisional conference: Philippines, Philippines East, Middle Philippines, West Middle, Bulacan, Dampango and Bicol Provisional. The Philippines Central Conference has three incumbent bishops individually assigned as resident bishop to each area.
The work is served by ordained elders, deacons, lay pastors, diaconal ministers and volunteer lay preachers. Women’s children’s and youth work is carried on in all levels: local parish, district and annual conference, with the help of deaconesses and pastors. Social welfare work is administered by five social centers and student services are managed by twelve student centers. Urban and rural community development, community-based comprehensive primary health care program, environmental are and protection program and agricultural development projects are mainly served by lay and clergy persons-in-mission. In response to rising issues of indigenous people’s rights, human rights, justice, peace and integrity of creation, active prophetic social involvement is carried on by the Board of Church and Society of the annual conferences.
Formation of church workers is served by three seminaries, seven Bible Schools, and one college for deaconesses. The general educational program includes two universities, three colleges, five high schools and a significant number of kindergarten and elementary schools. The educational program is administered and supervised by administrative heads, faculty and staff members who are national leaders. Missionaries assist national leaders in various ways.
The strength of the self-support programs of the church in the Philippines is its emphasis in Christian education, stewardship, mission and evangelism, resource development and social concerns. Well organized program agencies include church schools, daily vacation church schools, school for Christian youth development, lay institutes, United Methodist Youth Fellowship, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women and Clergy Spouses Association. Leadership in ecumenical activities is provided from the local church level as well as at national and international levels.
Philippines, Evangelical Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Nathanael P. Lazaro Philippines, Evangelical Methodist Church Visit Website
The Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas (Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines) was founded in 1909 and will soon celebrate its centennial anniversary of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, mostly to Filipinos in the Philippines and elsewhere in the globe. As a connectional Church, it has local congregations throughout the Philippine islands, in America, and in some parts of the world.
The Church was founded in the desire of Filipinos for freedom from alien control. When the Americans came to the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, they brought with them the more enlightened evangelical faith which was welcomed by Filipinos with great enthusiasm. After a decade of mission work under American missionaries, a group of Filipino preachers wanted to carry on evangelistic work in the Philippines under the leadership and aegis of Filipino evangelists. The Americans tried to dissuade the group, advising them that they were still much too young in the work to be undertaking such a bold and radical move.
The Filipino group, however, felt that the time was ripe. Led by the first-ordained Filipino Protestant minister, the Rev. Nicolas Zamora (who was a nephew of the immortal Gomez-Burgos-Zamora triumvirate of martyred priests executed by the Spaniards for patriotic leanings), this group of Filipino preachers seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church and founded the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines) on February 28, 1909 as an evangelical Church that is self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting.
Since the leadership of Bishop Zamora, ten more General Superintendents have steered the Church through many troubled waters. Even now as it faces the 21st century, the Church restates with even more firm commitment its main mission of spreading the Word of God in the Philippines and throughout the world, so that man will “know Christ and the power of His resurrection”, worshipping together and serving others in love.
Philippines, United Church of ChristContact: Rev. Reuel Norman Marigza Philippines, United Church of Christ Visit Website
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) was formed on May 25, 1948 from an organic union of different Protestant denominations, mostly from those which came from the United States during the early part of the twentieth century. The traditions of the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterians, the Congregational, the Evangelical United Brethren, the Philippine Methodist, and several autonomous congregations from the UNIDA and IEMELIF (Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas) all contribute to UCCP’s unique identity.
The UCCP now has grown to over 2,500 local and worshipping congregations and outreaches, 20 church-related schools and universities, and 5 church-related hospitals/health centers throughout the Philippines. It has three mandated lay organizations, the National Christian Women’s Association, the National United Church Men, and the National Christian Youth Fellowship. The 1994 National Census has pegged the UCCP membership at close to a million members. Of the 65 million Filipinos, more than 10 percent form its constituency.
Under a new constitution and by-laws (1993) the church is governed by the General Assembly which meets every four years to charts its ministry and elect its National Council. It is at present grouped geographically into four jurisdictional areas, each headed by a jurisdictional bishop; the jurisdictional area is in turn grouped into a total now of 38 conferences, each headed by a conference minister. There are close to 3,000 church workers, classified as ordained, lay church workers, deaconesses/Bible women.
Ecumenical in nature, the UCCP is a member of local and international bodies such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Christian Conference of Asia, the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Christian Peace Conference, the World Methodist Council and recently, the United Evangelical Mission. It has also a number of international covenants with other churches such as the United Church of Christ in Canada, United Church of Christ in USA, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of USA, Suomen Ekumeenisen Kasuatkuksen, Yhdistys of Finland, Presbyterian Church of Aoteroa New Zealand, Dienste in Ubersee of Germany and the Uniting Church in Australia.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, as expressed in its Statement of Faith, is a growing and transforming organization of people whose creed is to live out God’s will for all of life and creation as epitomized by Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. In 1998 the Golden Jubilee and the 100 years of Protestant witness in the Philippines was celebrated.
Poland, United Methodist Church *Contact: General Supt. Dr. Edward Puslecki Poland, United Methodist Church * Visit Website
Following the First World War, Methodist congregations were formed in various places in Poland thanks to the missionary and humanitarian efforts of the US-based “Methodist Episcopal Church, South” and in 1921 the Methodist Church in Poland was officially founded. It was run by Americans until the beginning of World War II. Then the local Methodists took over responsibility, and guided the Church through the following decades, which were anything but easy. Because of changes in the national borders in the course of WWII, the Methodist Church lost about one third of its congregations in regions now belonging to Lithuania, Byelorus, and Ukraine. At the same time, in some places in western Poland (former eastern Prussia) the congregational work was taken over by German Methodists. In 1945, the Methodist Church was officially recognized in Poland. This event was followed by the period of Communist rule, during which Church work was possible only against a strong “headwind” (e.g. various Methodist buildings were confiscated by the Polish government and have not been returned to this day; social institutions such as homes for children and the elderly were closed). In Masur during this period, some individual congregations of the Lutheran-Reformed “Unierte Kirche” joined the Methodists.
After 1989, the political changes presented many new possibilities for making an impact in society with Word and Deed. And thanks to the strong interest in missionary work in Poland and its eastern neighbors, many of these opportunities were realized. For example, considering its small size, the Methodist Church has a surprising presence on radio and TV, which frequently helps people who are searching for meaning to find their way to a congregation.
Today, the UMC in Poland also runs various language schools for English, a theological seminary in Klarysew (one of the official training schools in the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe) and a youth hostel in Stare Juchy. On the one hand, these institutions are points of Email between the UMC and its surroundings, and on the other, they are places where people are trained to serve society.
In many congregations the work with children, youth, and women is thriving, and today, social initiatives are manifest mainly in concrete, local projects, where for example needy people are offered meals. Against the backdrop of large-scale societal problems (unemployment and poverty) and in connection with the requirements associated with the return of seized properties in western Poland, the social efforts of the UMC will be intensified and the projects more closely coordinated. The project “A Glass of Water”, which is aimed at alcoholics and their families, is one step in this direction.
In Roman Catholic-dominated Poland, the UMC is recognized and appreciated as a Church, and in the past as in the present, Methodist personalities have often proved to be excellent bridge builders in interdenominational relations. One result of this activity is an agreement for cooperation in preaching and communion with the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church, as well as an agreement on mutual recognition of baptism between the six Churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council and the Roman Catholic Church.
Portugal, Evangelical Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Jose Sifredo L.O. Teixeira Portugal, Evangelical Methodist Church Visit Website
The origin of the Methodist Church in Portugal arose from the witness of two English laymen, Thomas Chegwin in 1854 and James Cassels ten years later, who were responsible for initiating small groups for prayer and Bible study following the pattern established by John Wesley and his class system.
In 1868 Portugal’s first Methodist Church was built in Vila Nova de Gaia where the first baptisms and services of Holy Communion were celebrated. The growth of Methodism under the leadership of Cassels was clearly evident, and persistent appeals were made to the Methodist Missionary Society in London for a missionary to assist his work. The request was eventually granted and a young minister, Robert Hawkey Moreton, was sent in 1871.
Moreton was a prudent man who never received anyone into membership without a prolonged inquiry. Within a few years the Methodist Church was building the Mirante Methodist Church, its first place of worship in Porto, and launching its great educational crusade against a high rate of illiteracy by opening primary schools. Meanwhile the future spiritual leaders of the church were emerging, the most prominent of them being Rev. Dr. Alfredo Henriques da Silva who succeeded Moreton, who expanded the work of the church during the more favourable years of the first Republic.
Between 1920 and 1940 the Portuguese Evangelical Methodist Church experienced its most fruitful period of expansion, recruiting members from all social classes, increasing the number of its schools and confirming itself as one of the most dynamic and prestigious evangelical churches in the country.
During this era the Church produced various publications of a spiritual and intellectual quality; most outstanding was the monthly “Portugal Evangélico”, the oldest Portuguese evangelical publication.
The isolation created by the World War II, a lengthy dictatorship, the lack of continuity of leadership when Rev. Alfredo da Silva began to age and the shortage of preachers gave rise to a crisis in leadership, which the Synod sought to resolve by once more appealing for ministerial support. This resulted in the appointment of the Rev. S. G. Wood and in 1954 the Rev. Albert Aspey, who for 29 years assumed the leadership of the church. During the time new areas of work thrived, the number of ministers increased, the church became involved in the ecumenical movement and, although forced to close down its primary schools, redirected its social program to concentrate on other types of community service including projects in support of children and the aged.
In 1984 the church returned to leadership by a national when the Rev. Ireneu da Silva Cunha was elected as chairman. The following year the Synod, meeting in Aveiro, took the decision to proceed towards autonomy. With the approach of the 125th anniversary of Moreton’s arrival in Porto and following consultation with the Methodist Missionary Society, the 1994 Synod resolved to draw up the required statutes and regulations, and approached the Conference of the Methodist Church in Great Britain with a view to assuming full autonomy. This was granted in June 1996 by the Conference in Blackpool, and officially transferred October 26, 1996, in Porto. The Portuguese Methodist Church is now fully autonomous, a member of the Methodist European Council and of the World Methodist Council.
The work is centred in Porto and covers mainly the northern half of the country, in 14 local churches. The membership is around 1,000 in a church community of 2,000. There are eight Portuguese full-time ministers, one of them the first Portuguese woman pastor; one having a secular job and one retired. There are sixteen deacons and deaconesses to preach, two deaconesses to serve in areas of need in the life of the Church and two still called lay preachers. The women and the youth have their own organized departments.
Plans are underway for the building of a large community centre in Porto and for developing work in Lisbon, where there is a good number of Angolan Methodists who did integrate the Portuguese Church.
The church is committed to social action with solidarity centres to support aged people and children, one in Aveiro area, another one in the mountain village of Valdozende and another one in Braga city. A new solidarity project is being developed in Porto to support children and families in need. There is increased ecumenical cooperation with the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches through the Portuguese Council of Churches, which shares in several areas of ecumenical life.
The main aim of the Church is to share Jesus in words and actions blessed by God and guided through the Holy Spirit.
Puerto Rico, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Rafael Moreno Rivas Puerto Rico, Methodist Church Visit Website
Methodism began in Puerto Rico in 1900. There are presently 11,000 members. Under Methodist auspices are a youth camp, a health multi-service center, women’s conference grounds, a clinic in Esperanza Vieques, youth center and ecumenical community programs in Comeiro and Barrio Obrero, Arecibo. The former Woman’s Division school for girls in suburban San Juan has evolved into a Community High School for girls and boys.
The Puerto Rico Annual Conference, formerly a member of the Philadelphia Area of the United Methodist Church, began work in 1972 to become an independent Methodist Church, with the desire of the Puerto Rican Methodists to build a church led by its own people. At the 1992 General Conference of the United Methodist Church a proposal was adopted to make the Puerto Rican Church an affiliated autonomous church. Under the agreement, provision was made for an eight-year transitional period, intended to insure close coordination and adequate mission support for the Puerto Rican church. Bishop Victor L. Bonilla, former superintendent of the San Juan District, said the autonomous status will enable the church to play a key role “in the Hispanic world, especially the Caribbean/Latin American World.”
Republic of China, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop John C.T. Lin Republic of China, Methodist Church Visit Website
Methodism was introduced into China in 1847 by Judson Dwight Collins and Moses Clark White in Foochow with the purpose of preaching the gospel in China. Actually, the True God Church was established in Foochow in 1856, then in 1937 combined with the United Methodist Church. In 1947 the Methodist Church in the Republic of China celebrated its centennial. The Methodist group grew slowly but steadily, membership increased to 100,000 and the number of ministers was over 500. Educational, medical and social services were provided widely and had great achievement.
In 1949, the Methodist Church in the Republic of China moved to Taiwan with the government. On June 21, 1953, the Taipei Methodist Church was erected, then local churches and chapels with a baptized membership numbering over 2,500. Various types of educational, medical and social services are provided, including Tung-Hai University and Wesley’s Girls High School and several kindergartens. In 1972 the Methodist Church in the Republic of China became autonomous and the first bishop installed in 1986.
Evangelism came to Taiwan in 1624 when the Dutch occupied southern Taiwan. The first person to win souls in Taiwan for the Reformed Church of Holland was George Candidins. Christianity in Taiwan developed in a new direction following Taiwan’s retrocession to the Republic of China, particularly after the mainland fell to the communists in 1949. Churches of numerous de nominations flocked to Taiwan, and the number of Christians and clergy multiplied accordingly.
In 1996 Bishop Philip Tseng was installed. Local preachers and church leaders play active and vital roles in pastoral work and in the formulation of church policy. The church’s commitment to the future is evident in its response to the call for mission and broadening its services to the community. The Methodist Church in the Republic of China is open to the Lord’s calling to stand obediently with the majority and commit to God’s mission of building a just and peaceful society.
Romania, United Methodist Church *Contact: Supt. Dr. Daniel Topalski Romania, United Methodist Church *
Samoa, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Aisdi Aisoli T Iuli Samoa, Methodist Church
The Samoa Methodist Church was first established in 1828 by a Samoan, named Saivaaia followed by the first missionary in 1835. She became independent in 1964. Since then there has been an increase in the number of ordained ministers. The position of leadership is in the hands of the locals. The MCS developed many Pre-Schools, a Primary School, three Colleges and a Technical Institute as our mandate in developing programs in the areas of secular education, religious education and family life.
Piula Theological College continues to feed the church in providing ministers for the local and overseas parishes as well as to equip them for overseas missionary work.
Amid the challenge and the changes coming into our shore, the Samoa Methodist Church wishes to maintain her identity as Methodist in life and worship with open minds for change as we see fit.
The involvement of lay people is very much appreciated and their talents and gifts in putting more life into the discussion and decision making within the church. We do encourage them and pray that more men and women may willingly answer their calling and offer their services to God through his Church.
In the Conference of 2006, statistics showed that the Methodist Church of Samoa’s membership is 36,385, an increase of 1,263 from the previous five years, with an approximately 42,600 touched by the church. The number of lay preachers was 1,048 in 2001 and in 2006 1,048. The fluctuation in terms of the actual amount is owed to migration, retirement and death.
Migration has affected our number from time-to-time, so our figures are not stable. However, migration also speaks for one aspect of our members as being ‘people in mission.’ Our people in American Samoa, New Zealand, USA, Hawaii and Australia decided to establish their own parishes and have continued to connect them and their children to the Methodist Church in Samoa. There are 12 Synods abroad. There are 194 parishes; 92 are overseas. These parishes and Synods are represented annually to the General Conference of the Church held every July.
The Methodist Church of Samoa realizes that its task was to be a sending church, not only a receiving church. The MCS continues to send its ministers as missionaries in other countries. For this year, three Samoan Ministers are currently working for the Methodist Church in USA. We believe that the Methodist people around the world are all interconnected to their primary and common purpose for “winning souls for Christ.” Thus it is our prayer that Christ the Head lead of the Methodist Family will continue to inspire and guide us all.
Serbia, United Methodist Church *Contact: Supt. Ana Palik-Kuncak Serbia, United Methodist Church *
The UMC’s work in the Vojvodina region (the northern part of what is now Serbia) was begun by German missionaries. German emigrants who had left their homeland and settled in this fertile region between the Danube and Theiss rivers to start new lives noticed them and invited them to come. Thus the first Methodist worship service was held in this region in 1898. Soon, the entire region was affected by a great awakening, and thriving new congregations were born (until 1904 exclusively among the German-speaking population, later among Hungarian speakers as well). But beginning in 1944, as a result of developments in the Second World War, the “Donauschwaben” or “Danube Swabians” were forced to leave the country or died in concentration camps. Since most pastors and members of the Methodist Church were members of this ethnic group, many churches were closed. It was a painful juncture in the Church’s history. One of the few positive aspects of this period is that the men and women who fled from Vojvodina took their faith with them to new countries, and thus founded new congregations.
However, the work of the Methodists in Serbia continued, albeit under more difficult conditions. The charitable and educational work was no longer allowed. Yet new congregations were founded among the Slovak, Hungarian, and Serbo-Croat speaking minorities. Just as in Macedonia, the “Bible women” played an important role in the growth of these congregations, and it is no coincidence that the second woman to be ordained a Deacon in the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe (Paula Mojzes, 1957) lived in what was then Yugoslavia. Under the pressure of the political situation at the time, several congregations of the “Blue Cross” also joined the Methodist Church in the 1950s.
Waves of emigration later led to the loss of significant numbers of members. Even today, following the political unrest, wars, and waves of refugees of the past years, many people, especially the young, see no hope for the future in their own country. The economy is weak, unemployment is high, and many people subsist far below the poverty level. Even groceries, electricity, and medicines are beyond the means of many people.
So spreading the Gospel must also mean living the Gospel and offering the people practical help (firewood, medicine, food). The congregations of the UMC do both. In a country that is searching for its identity, they overcome boundaries by caring for ethnic minorities, as in the evangelizing and social services for Rom which have been initiated in several places.
Today, Macedonia and Serbia are two politically independent countries, but the UMC congregations still form one organizational unit (Annual Conference) with two districts. However, due to the unfavorable economic situation, they are able to cover only about 10% of their own budget, and the lack of pastors is also a heavy burden, although this aspect is improving. With great dedication and faith in God, the members of the UMC accept these challenges.
Sierra Leone, Methodist ChurchContact: Rt. Rev. Arnold C. Temple Sierra Leone, Methodist Church
The Methodist Church Sierra Leone had its roots in the group of freed slaves who arrived in Sierra Leone in 1792. Some Wesleyan Methodists had been in Email with Dr. Coke, founder of missions, a younger contemporary of John Wesley, whilst they were in Nova Scotia.
This group started to organize themselves into a church but had to appeal for help from Dr. Coke in Britian. This resulted in sending the first Wesleyan Methodist missionary in 1811, the Rev. George Warren.
Work continued in Freetown, the capital town, and its environs, but also spread to the interior by the end of the century. This had continued until now and the concentration of the work is mainly around the capital, and the southern and eastern parts of the country.
The church is divided into three synods, each with several circuits. Membership of the church was 38,758 up to 1998. Since then, the continuing rebel war has made certain areas of the country completely inaccessible. We have, therefore, not been able to assemble more accurate statistics for our membership. The total numbers takes into consideration the people in Guinea. Total ministerial strength is 86 (including 16 probationers). The program of the church includes education, health and community development.
There are 70 primary schools and 12 secondary schools. Many of the pupils have been members of the church and have subsequently made worthwhile contributions to the life and work of the church. The number of people affected by the work of the Methodist Church is 2.1 million. The number of people benefited by the work of the Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is about one and a half million.
Nixon Memorial Hospital in Segbwema, about 230 miles outside Freetown, dealt with a total of about 65,000 patients in 1995, nearly 4,000 of which were admissions. The hospital also acts as a clinic centre for primary health care programme serving the Njaluahun Chiefdom. While we wait to reopen Nixon we have opened two new health centres in Freetown and Kenema.
The work in the East and South was seriously hampered due to a rebel war and escalation of violence since 1991. Too many have been killed. We are thankful to God that the violence is now generally ebbing.
Two regional offices have been opened to serve displaced people in Bo (Southern Region) and Kennema (Eastern Region).
We call on the world community to pray for us as we are challenged first to find peace and then to rebuild our broken communities, churches, manses and schools.
Sierra Leone, United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop John K. Yambasu Sierra Leone, United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone started as United Brethren in Christ in 1855. It merged with the Evangelicals in 1946 and became the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 it merged with The Methodist Church becoming The United Methodist Church. During this time, all presiding bishops were from the USA.
In 1973 the church assumed autonomy with the first indigenous resident bishop, the late Dr. Benjamin A. Carew, followed in 1979 by Bishop Thomas S. Bangura. Membership includes 94,500, with 6,200 probationary members and 12,200 constituent members. Potential for growth in all the churches is greater now than ever. In spite of the ravages of war during the last ten years, there is great spiritual reawakening.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is not only concerned with the spiritual needs of the people but also their physical and socio-economic needs. It operates 213 primary (elementary) and 20 secondary (high) schools. It runs 11 maternity and health centres throughout the country and one eye hospital with a full medical coordinator and two medical doctors. Three agricultural and community developments have been revitalized at Manjama (Bo District) Pa Lokko (Western District) and Yonibana (Northern District).
Service organizations for women, men, youth and young adults are active, and a strong children’s ministry. The women’s organization has three training centers: Betty Carew, Kono Musu and Urban Center.
The United Methodist Church is one of the cooperating churches running the Ecumenical Theological College and Church Training Center in Freetown for the training of leadership for the churches and community.
Bishop Thomas S. Bangura retired in 1992 and was succeeded by Bishop Joseph C. Humper, the third indigenous bishop.
Sierra Leone, West African Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Dixon Modupeh Speck Sierra Leone, West African Methodist ChurchGeneral Superintendent
The West African Methodist Church came into being in 1844 as a result of differences concerning the administrative procedures in The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone at the time, differences which sought to rid the church of the vestiges of color prejudices and the erroneous notions concerning the liability of peoples of African origin to participate fully in the affairs of the church. Formation of this independent church and its continued role and success in spreading the gospel among peoples of African decent in Sierra Leone was a significant milestone in the establishment of many African churches in the West African sub-region.
The church is administered by the general superintendent who is elected from among the most senior clergymen, and assistant general superintendent elected from among the lay elders and an elected executive.
An early attempt at reunification with The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone failed to materialize and the second schism took place in 1935. The West African Methodist Church has continued as an independent body. Nonetheless, an extremely cordial relationship exists between the two churches as they cooperate in many areas of Christian witness. The two churches use the same hymn book and liturgy. The doctrinal tenets of the West African Methodist Church are essentially those of Methodist churches worldwide.
The West African Methodist Church has by the grace of God, from entirely local resources, established 19 churches and 3 preaching places in Freetown, the capital, and surrounding rural areas. It also operates in the Moyamba District, 120 miles from Freetown, which is served by tow churches and two preaching places.
Membership of the church now stands at nearly 4,000 including some 1,200 juvenile members. The clerical strength is made up of 11 ministers in full connexion and six ministers on probation and trainees, and nearly 90 trained lay preachers who voluntarily support the clergy.
The church is proprietor of two secondary schools and six primary schools, one of the primary schools being in the Moyamba District where the church also supports development work in the farming community.
Singapore, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Dr. WEE Boon Hup Singapore, Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Church in Singapore goes back to 1884 when, on James Thoburn’s initiative, the South India Conference appointed William F. Oldham as pioneer missionary to Singapore. Thoburn headed the party which sailed unheralded into Singapore harbor on 7 February 1885. Evangelistic meetings were followed by the first Quarterly Conference on 23 February.
Thereafter, the mission initiated a number of related activities: schools for boys and girls established by Oldham and Sohia Blackmore, with hostel accommodation; churches organized in all the main local dialects (Malay, Tamil, Hokkien, Cantonese and Foochow); and William Shellabear’s Mission Press and pioneer scripture translations and publishing work.
Following the initial thrust in Singapore, work spread to the towns and rubber estates in Peninsula Malaya. Town churches were twinned with schools which provided important support for the churches. Expansion and growth graduated the mission to the Malaysia Annual Conference in February 1902.
Equally significant were the planting of Methodism in the Philippines in 1900 and the settlement of Foochow Christians in Sarawak and in Sitiawan (Malaya) after the Boxer War. This was followed by Java, then Sumatra. A Tamil and Chinese evangelists were engaged from Ceylon and South China.
By the end of World War I, young people who had studied in the schools, attended the churches, Sunday Schools and Epworth League had matured. Local leadership was, however, expressed mainly in churches using the Chinese dialects, Malay and Tamil.
The Jubilee in 1935 reflected the development of human resources through the rapid growth of Methodist schools in number and quality, the success of the youth and women’s work, all forming a local talent pool.
With the collapse of Singapore following the outbreak of the Pacific War and the suspension of American missionary support, local Methodist leaders carried on under trying circumstances. A turning point had been reached, and profound change had begun to take place. When hostilities ended in 1945, a period of physical and psychological reconstruction began.
The founding of Trinity Theological College, the fruit of ecumenical prison fellowship and a significant cradle of local and regional church leadership, was an important milestone. The other was a new relationship in the U.S. Methodist Church with the constituting of the South East Asia Central Conference in 1950, and the American mission.
Led by maturing local clergy and lay leadership, the church has grown significantly.
Slovakia United Methodist Church *Contact: Supt. Robert Zachar Slovakia United Methodist Church * Visit Website
In 1920, missionaries from the US-based Methodist Episcopal Church, South began their work in Czechoslovakia. They organized evangelization meetings, distributed Bibles, and provided emergency services to the people, who were still suffering from the consequences of the First World War. This work led to the founding of various congregations and to the birth of the UMC in Czechoslovakia. In the early years, the Church grew rapidly. Later, the young Church experienced very difficult years, at first in a financial sense, and then for political reasons. Yet in spite of persecution and oppression by the state, from restriction of activities to the arrest of pastors, rays of hope always managed to shine through.
At the end of 1989, the political changes in Eastern Europe suddenly offered many new opportunities for Christian service in a highly secularized society, and the UMC was still there, with renewed missionary zeal that soon led to the founding and growth of new congregations. For the most part, the new members were young people who were hearing the message of the Gospel for the first time, and who with their enthusiasm brought a strong new dynamic into the Church.
The political separation of the country in 1993 and subsequent founding of the Czech and Slovak Republics did not separate the Annual Conference. The UMC in these countries has undergone structural adaptations, but is still organized as an annual conference with two districts.
The growing congregations in the Slovak Republic are confronted with many social challenges. The fact that the country joined the EU in May 2004 has not changed this situation. But these needs are viewed as an opportunity to spread God’s love. Because of this, they often lead to new dedication to the Kingdom of God and to programs which also try to alleviate the material needs of the people. For example, one emphasis of the UMC in the Slovak Republic is the work with the Romani minority, who live in the eastern part of the country as poor and underprivileged outcasts, without hope of improving their condition. The Romani people receive not only clothing, furniture, and household utensils, but also attention, unconditional acceptance, and educational assistance as a basis for improving their own future. Other areas of emphasis include support for radio evangelization programs and inter-church cooperation, such as the theological program supported by several Christian Churches and groups at the university in Banska Bystrica.
South Congo United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Kainda Katembo South Congo United Methodist Church
Southern Africa, African MethodistContact: Bishop Adam J. Richardson Southern Africa, African Methodist
Southern Africa, Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Ziphozihle D. Siwa Southern Africa, Methodist Church Visit Website
Methodism came to South Africa with the British garrison in 1806, but the mission was launched by Barnabas Shaw who reached the Cape in 1816 and William Shaw (unrelated) who arrived in 1820 with the British settlers and rapidly established a chain of mission stations between the Cape Colony and Natal.
Methodism spread to all parts of Southern Africa and drew its membership from all sections of the community. It was a non-racial church from the outset, although it was deeply affected by prevailing social customs, and is still endeavoring to give true affect to this character.
Six missionary districts of the Wesleyan Methodist Church became an affiliated conference in 1883. An independent conference was constituted in 1927 and enlarged in 1832 to include the Transvaal District and the Primitive Methodist Mission.
Census figures reflect a Methodist community over 2.1 million, most of whom claim affiliation to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. According to a church census conducted in 2000, there are 683 ministers, 5,078 congregations and 2,888 preaching places.
The mission statement of the MCSA reads: “God calls us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for hearing and transformation.” The church’s vision statement is “A Christ-healed Africa for the healing of nations.”
An inventory of some of the ministries of the connexion include: pre-school, ministries to the homeless, ministries to informal settlements, hospice type ministries, ministries to prisons, HIV/AIDS ministries, poverty alleviation projects.
Through membership in the World Methodist Council, World Council of Churches, All Africa Council of Churches, South Africa Council of Churches and Christian Unity Commission we endeavour to develop relationships with other Christians churches in South Africa and throughout the world.
Spain, The Evangelical ChurchContact: Rev. Joel Cortés Spain, The Evangelical Church Visit Website
The Methodist Church in Spain was started in the northeast part of the country by missionaries from England in 1869. But before this date, at the beginning of the 19th century, there was some missionary work done by a British Methodist minister, William H. Rule, who from Gibraltar established some Protestant day schools and groups of worship in the south of Spain that had no continuity because of the presence and action of the Spanish Inquisition. But this attempt to establish a Protestant church in Spain was the first done in the country since the 16th century.
In 1868, a change in the government started a new period of tolerance and the first Protestant churches were established. The first Methodist church was organized in Barcelona on September 1, 1869. Afterwards others were created in Catalunya and the Balearic Islands. The life and witness of these churches has been limited by intolerance and lack of liberty that prevailed in Spain all through these years with just very few and short expectations. There was no religious freedom in the country until Franco’s death, when a new constitution (1978) was approved that established a clear separation between church and state and total freedom.
In 1955 the Methodist churches were integrated in the already existing Spanish Evangelical Church that was formed by congregations with Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Lutheran traditions. Since then the church has strong relationships with the Methodist Church in England and The United Methodist Church USA. The Spanish Evangelical Church was received as a member of the World Methodist Council in 1981.
Sri Lanka, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Dr. A.W. Jebanesan Sri Lanka, Methodist ChurchPresident Visit Website
Methodism came to Sri Lanka on June 29, 1814. The mission was led by Rev. Dr. Thomas Coke who died on his way to this country near Bombay. Five others, however, landed on our shores. Many other missionaries have come from Britain and Ireland and made a rich contribution to the life of the church. Missionary teachers and principals have left an indelible mark on the history of education in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Church became autonomous in 1964.
The oldest Methodist Church in Asia is in Colombo and it celebrated its 180th anniversary in 1995. The Methodist Church in Sri Lanka consists of 3 districts and 32 circuits. It has 75 active ministers, 54 evangelists and 20 lay workers in full time ministry. Three missionaries of our church serve in England, Germany and the West Indies. Nine missionaries from Germany, Korea, England and Holland work in the church. The total Methodist community in Sri Lanka is 28,000.
The ministers receive their theological education at an ecumenical theological college in Pilimatalawa. Two evangelistic training centers have been established for training evangelists in Tamil and Sinhala. The church manages two schools, Wesley College and Methodist College. The church has been actively involved in education since 1814. There were over 120 Methodist schools managed by the church when the government took over mission schools in Sri Lanka. It has now gone into pre-school education and has set up 150 pre-schools, nurseries and day care centers. More are for the poorer children and include nutrition programs.
The church runs 17 children’s homes for about 1,000 children, assisted by Kinder Nothilfe in Germany. With the country in a state of civil war the church has been challenged to care for the victims of violence. Churches in the combat zone have organized refugee camps, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, and counseling of those who have faced trauma of war.
The Church has training programs for electronic technicians, motor mechanics, mechanical engineering, pottery, sewing, agriculture, a center for training in the printing trade and training in its City Mission for carpentry, metal work, catering, and janitorial services. About 400 young people benefit from these projects.
Over 50 evangelists are trying to establish a Christian witness in frontier areas. Last year new work was begun in 30 village communities. The church is experimenting with new forms of worship, introducing creative, indigenous models of worship.
The peace and reconciliation committee of the church is involved in a peace education program to educate the youth to understand the need for multi-ethnic co-existence. Exchange programs for young people belonging to different ethnic communities are being organized as a contribution to peace education. It has tried to mediate between the conflicting parties in the war and has urged them to take steps towards a negotiated settlement to the ethnic crisis.
Sweden, The Uniting Church inContact: Ann-Sofie Lasell Sweden, The Uniting Church in
Switzerland, United Methodist Church *Contact: Bishop Patrick Streiff Switzerland, United Methodist Church * Visit Website
The first Wesleyan congregation in Switzerland was founded in Lausanne in 1840. The Methodist Episcopal Church began its work sixteen years later in Lausanne and Zurich. And finally, the Evangelical Brethren Church founded its first congregation in Berne in 1866. Thus today’s UMC in Switzerland was formed from three different Methodist movements.
In the early days, missionaries from Germany, Great Britain, and America worked to build the Church. Local preachers soon cared for a growing number of congregations. However, this period was a time not only of growth, but also of resistance and oppression. Any religious movement that belonged neither to the Catholic nor to the Reformed Protestant Church was treated as a sect, and proselytizing was viewed as «stealing members». Violence against preachers and lay missionaries was not uncommon.
But the spread of Methodism in Switzerland was not to be stopped, and soon Switzerland was itself the source of missionary work. Members of the Church, especially women, were sent out to nearly all continents to do good works, to teach people about God, and to help build new congregations. Today, eleven men and women work in the service of Connexio, the mission and service network of the UMC, in Argentina, in the Congo, in Algeria and in Croatia – in projects for development cooperation, emergency aid, missionary congregation building, and inter-church aid.
In Switzerland as elsewhere, the UMC’s field of activity includes much more than pure congregational work. The Church maintains close ties with various social and missionary institutions:
- Bethanien Charity in Zürich
- Bethesda Charity in Basel
- 8 homes for the elderly
- 1 group living facility for mothers and children
- 1 day nursery
- 1 home for the mentally handicapped
- 2 hotels
- 1 backpackers villa
- 5 retreats
In many places, the congregational efforts emphasize work with children and youth and the organization of worship services in a contemporary style. Music also plays an important role, just as in the early Methodist movement. In addition to numerous choirs and vocal groups, many congregations also have their own bands, brass choirs, or other instrumental ensembles.
The cooperation with other Churches — be it in the context of the Evangelical Alliance or in the ecumenical context — is an important priority of the UMC and is considered to be an active contribution towards a common Christian witness.
There are still a number of women’s groups and missionary societies. In the past 15 years, congregational partnership teams have been established. In all these groups, the participants not only discuss the issues of their own lives, but also follow the work of Methodist congregations in other places (Eastern Europe, Africa, South America, Asia), and make practical contributions.
On the other hand there are several groups and congregations made up by people from Latin America, Africa or Asia which meet in UMC buildings and which have an already longstanding or a rather new but growing relationship with the UMC.
And finally, there are missionary activities and serving ministries at many places (working with drug addicts and the socially disadvantaged; open youth work; lunch projects, support for asylum seekers, etc.). Many congregations are opening themselves to the non-members around them by initiating programs based on the needs of people not affiliated with any church.
Together with the UMC in France and the Methodist congregations in Northern Africa (Algeria/Tunisia), the UMC in Switzerland makes up the Annual Conference of Switzerland/France.
Togo, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Charles C. KLAGBA-KUADJOVI Togo, Methodist Church
In 1843, British Wesleyan missionary Thomas Birch Freeman who came from Lagos, Nigeria, visited Togo. He gained permission from the Ling of Anecho, Georges Lawson I for preaching and for establishment of schools.
For a long time, the work was developed only in the Anecho area which is inhabited by the ethnic group of Mina and Guin.
At the beginning, the Methodist Church of Togo was under the authority of Nigeria-Dahomey-Togo District which later became Dahomey-Togo District. It was only in 1978 that the Methodist Church of Togo was separated from the Methodist Church of Benin and became an independent district of the British Conference and is presided over by a chairman. From 1978 to 1980, the chairman was Rev. James Lawson. From 1981 to 1990 it was Rev. Gaspard Menoah, and at the present time, it is Rev. Felicien Lawson.
The last Synod (1995) decided that the Methodist District of Togo will become an independent conference in 1999.
The total Methodist community is 38,816 of whom 18,622 are full members in 6 circuits and 25 parishes. The church is served today by two Togolese ministers in full time and two in part time while four are in school. Eight catechists and other lay preachers helped the ministers in this service. Women and youth are given their places in the church and their unions are active and growing in strength. The church also operates 20 primary schools and one secondary school.
Tonga, Free Wesleyan ChurchContact: Rev. Dr. Finau Paila Ahio Tonga, Free Wesleyan ChurchPresident
The first missionaries who came to Tonga landed in 1787. They were sent out by the London Missionary Society and were not ministers but tradesmen, the plan being to give some elements of civilization and afterwards when the way had been prepared, to give Christian teaching. This attempt failed. The Tongans misjudged the intentions of these men and during war between different factions some were massacred and others left the country.
In 1822 the Rev. Walter Lawry came and remained for 14 months. He met with a great deal of opposition and abandoned the attempt to Christianize Tonga.
On June 28, 1826, Revs. John Thomas and John Hutchinson landed at Ha‟atafu where a monument now stands to mark the spot and commemorate the event. They settled at Kolovai, the largest village in that area. Some months prior to this two Tahitians, Hape and Tafeta, began work successfully in Nuku‟alofa. Soon other missionaries arrived and the work spread to Ha‟apai and Vava‟u groups.
In July 1834 beginning in a service at „Utui conducted by a Tongan, a great work of the Spirit of God brought almost all the people of Vava‟u into the church. By the end of 1834 it was said there were no heathen left in Ha‟apai. The work was slower in Tongatapu but by 1853 all Tongans were at least nominally Christian.
The Free Wesleyan church of Tonga, gained autonomy from the General Conference of The Methodist Church of Australia when the Uniting Church on Australia was established. This was a significant decision on the part of the Tongan Conference to gain this freedom from the Australian Conference and thus lived up to its name of Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.
Education is a strong feature of the work of the church in Tonga. It is responsible for the secondary education of more than 60 percent of the students in Tonga. It runs five senior secondary schools and two district schools, seven primary schools and three middle schools. Christian education and evangelism have also become high in the list of the church priorities. For the last decade of the century the church adopted the theme of “Witness 2000,” which involved an all-out drive to reach young people who are not yet catechists.
The Department of Christian Education and Evangelism works closely with the Women‟s Department in implementing the theme of the church. The Women‟s Department sees to the welfare of women in the church.
Although free from the General Australian Conference, the church very much values its relationships with the World Mission of the Uniting Church in Australia. At the end of 1991, there were three missionaries from Australia, one from the Methodist Church Overseas Division in Britian, and several Peace corps Volunteers as well as Australian volunteers, mainly in church schools.
The Tongan Church Mission Board oversees numerous Tongan congregations in other countries, notably the United States, Australia and New Zealand, as some congregations have opted to remain affiliated with the parent church in Tonga. Church work centers mainly on evangelism.
Uruguay, Methodist ChurchContact: Rev. Oscar Bolioli Uruguay, Methodist Church Visit Website
Methodist work in Uruguay began in 1836 with explorations and visits among the English speaking population. In 1868, the Rev. Juan F. Thompson who had begun Spanish preaching in Buenos Aires, Argentina, moved to Montevideo and started a very promising movement, especially among the liberal intellectuals and the independent middle class. In 1878 the Rev. Thomas B. Wood organized the Episcopal Methodist church in the capital city and other cities of the country, and founded the first Latin American Methodist publication, “El Evangelista.” In 1893 Uruguay became a district of the River Plate Conference (Argentina and Uruguay), and a Provisional Annual Conference in 1954. Since 1969 the church became autonomous, under a General Assembly every two years, with an Executive Committee of six lay members and three ordained members. The President can be a minister or a layperson.
Educational work began in 1879, with several independent schools under national leadership, that later on converged into the “Instituto Crandon,” one of the most prestigious and influential educational institutions in the country to this day. In 1957 a branch was started in the city of Salto. Good Will Industries was founded in the depression years to help the unemployed, the first of its kind to be founded outside of the USA. The “Good Will Institute” is totally dedicated to specialized education of handicapped young people. Day care centers are offered in some of the most needy areas of Montevideo, in cooperation with government institutions.
In spite of its small number of churches and members, the Uruguayan Methodist Church has been present and active in the intellectual and social life of the country, providing the leadership for Temperance and Defense of Women movements, the formation of the YMCA, the creation of the “Hospital Evangelico,” the National Federation of Youth, and the Federation of Protestant Churches.
Ecumenical relationships and projects are an inseparable part of the church, nationally and internatinally, providing leadership to the world church (i.e., Emilio Castro, former secretary of the WCC). A radio program “La Voz Evangelical,” has been reaching a national audience for 52 years. The church suffered the impact of eleven years of military dictatorship (1973-83), with the subsequent polarization and dispersion of membership. At the moment the total membership is 1,193 and the community served is 5,000. It has 11 ordained ministers, 4 lay ministers, and 478 people working in its institutions and programs. At present a missionary couple from the USA, one pastor from Argentina and one from Brazil are sharing in this ministry. “The Academy of Methodism” has been created to train the lay leadership.
USA United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Rosemarie Wenner USA United Methodist ChurchPresident of the Council of Bishops Visit Website
The United Methodist Church traces its origins to the Evangelical Revival of the 18th Century in which John and Charles Wesley were prominent leaders. Methodist societies were organized in North America in the 1762. As the movement grew, American Methodists petitioned John Wesley to send lay preacher missionaries to strengthen and extend their ministry.
One of Wesley’s missioners, Thomas Rankin, called together the American preachers for their first annual conference in 1773.
In December 1784 the Methodist Episcopal Church was created with Wesley’s blessing. Thomas Coke (1747-1814) and Francis Asbury (1745-1816) were named its superintendents. Asbury was an especially important itinerant leader in the earliest years. Within a few years geographical annual conferences were devised as the church continued to grow. Itinerant circuit riding preachers and committed laypeople contributed to an evangelical ministry in the Methodist Episcopal Church which resulted in its becoming a major force in American life.
While the Methodist Episcopal Church was in its infancy, two German-speaking churches were being established. In 1800 Philip William Otterbein (1726-1813) and Martin Boehm (1725-1812) organized the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Seven years later Jacob Albright (1759-1808) formed the Evangelical Association. Over the ensuing years both of these churches effectively ministered to German-speaking and English-speaking people. In 1946 the United Brethren and Evangelicals united to become the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Painful schisms over race, democratic ideals, slavery in the Methodist Episcopal Church resulted in the formation of new Methodist ecclesiastical bodies including the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1816), African Methodist Episcopal Zion (1796), Methodist Protestant (1830), and Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1845), and Colored (now Christian) Methodist Episcopal (1870) churches among others. In 1939 the Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and Methodist Protestant churches reunited to form The Methodist Church.
After several years of discussion and negotiation The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church united in April 1968 to constitute The United Methodist Church. Like its predecessors The United Methodist Church has an episcopal form of government and is organized into geographical annual conferences. The chief legislative body of the church is the General Conference, composed of approximately 1,000 delegates, which is scheduled to meet quadrennially. Church governance is prescribed in the denomination’s Book of Discipline which is revised by General Conference legislation. It also published The Book of Resolutions which includes statements on social issues and other matters. From its origins United Methodism and its predecessors have sought to combine evangelical faith with personal and social holiness. The denomination’s Council of Bishops and its fourteen official boards and agencies implement the church’s policies and programs.
The United Methodist Church has four doctrinal standards. Three of these are attributed to John Wesley: The Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament; his Standard Sermons; and the Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church. The fourth standard is the Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. For their theology, United Methodists also utilize a document titled, “Our Theological Task,” published in their Discipline which encourages the use of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience for their faith and life.
There are approximately 35,000 local churches in the United Methodist connection. Worship and liturgical practices in these churches vary from congregation to congregation. However, most congregations use The United Methodist Hymnal for worship and The United Methodist Book of Worship as a resource for worship. Two sacraments are central to the church’s life: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
United Methodism and its predecessors have traditionally supported the World Methodist Council and other ecumenical bodies such as the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and the World Council of Churches.
The United Methodist Church seeks to be faithful to God in its worship and witness.
Wesleyan Church, TheContact: Dr. Jo Anne Lyon Wesleyan Church, The Visit Website
The Wesleyan Church (TWC) was formed through the uniting of The Wesleyan Methodist Church of America (1843) and The Pilgrim Holiness Church of America (1897) in 1968. The Wesleyan Methodist Church came into existence during the slavery abolitionist movement of the 19th century while the Pilgrim Holiness Church had its origins in the revivalism of the same period.
TWC World Headquarters offices are located in Fishers, IN (The Greater Indianapolis area). One general superintendent, elected quadrennially, provides spiritual and administrative leadership for the denomination. Four executive directors and the chief financial officer assist the general superintendent in the leadership of the various ministries of the Church.
The Wesleyan Church emphasizes scriptural truth concerning the new birth, the sanctification of the believer, the personal return of Christ, and church planting and global evangelism. At the same time the Church speaks to the social, moral, and political issues through a Denominational Task Force on Public Morals and Social Concerns. It joins with World Hope International in providing compassionate ministry around the world.
The Wesleyan Church exists in 100 90 nations of the world. The development of national Wesleyan Churches into fully responsible church bodies is encouraged. All national and regional churches maintain relationship with each other through an International Board and Conference. Two national churches have risen to the level of general conference: The Wesleyan Church of the Philippines and The Wesleyan Church of the Caribbean.
Five college and/or universities are owned and operated by the Church in North America and many Bible colleges and ministerial institutes as well as hospitals and clinics in other countries. The Church operates a publishing house which publishes prints and distributes books, literature, and Sunday school curriculum to many denominations in both English and Spanish.
There are over 5000 churches and/or missions in the world with a baptized membership of over 370,000 and a constituency of over 500,000. The Immanuel General Mission of Japan and Yeon Hap Korean Methodist Church of Korea are affiliate member denominations.
Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Ind., and a seminary foundation, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY, provide for the ministerial graduate education of ministers along with five other denominationally endorsed seminaries.
The Wesleyan Church is a member of the World Methodist Council, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the American Bible Society.
West Africa, African MethodistContact: Bishop David Rwhynica Daniels, Jr. West Africa, African Methodist Visit Website
The African Methodist Episcopal Church through its Fourteenth Episcopal District operates in five nations of West Africa, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast. The AME mission to this region commenced in 1820 when Daniel Coker, the founder of African Methodism in Baltimore, arrived in Sierra Leone. Since Coker mounted an independent effort, John R. Frederick in 1886 became the first official AME representative in Sierra Leone. Frederick’s missionary successes, the strides of his colleague, Sarah Corham, and the adsorption of the Countess of Huntingdon Connection enabled Bishop Henry M. Turner on November 10, 1891, to organize the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. A month later Turner launched the Liberia Annual Conference. AME members whom Bishop John M. Brown organized in 1878 emigrated to Liberia from the United States. They eventually became the nucleus out of which Turner inaugurated African Methodism in Liberia. Bishop Edward J. Howard convened the first Ghana Annual Conference in 1936, five years after Mrs. Europa J. Randall, a missionary from Sierra Leone, founded a congregation at Essikadu. Not until the 1960s was the AME church firmly established in Nigeria although formal recognition had occurred in 1956 when the General Conference admitted delegates representing that country. Bishop John R. Bryant and the Rev. Cecilia W. Bryant inaugurated an evangelistic thrust which brought the AME Church into the Ivory Coast in 1989. Within three years five congregations had been founded.
The AME Church has had a broad impact on education. Mainly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ghana the denomination has operated numerous schools at the primary, secondary, and collegiate levels. In Sierra Leone the Rev. H. M. Steady, who joined the denomination in 1890, founded the AME Boy’s Seminary and the AME Girl’s Industrial and Literary School. In 1960 the Sierra Leone Annual Conference sponsored eight educational institutions. In Liberia in 1902 Bishop Cornelius T. Shaffer purchased 100 acres near Arthington for the Shaffer Boy’s High School. Monrovia College and Industrial Institute, however, became the leading AME school in that nation. Founded in 1921 by Bishop William S. Brooks, the institution continued to grow under his episcopal successors who built additional facilities and attracted able faculty. Bishop Eugene C. Hatcher, for example, dedicated the new Hatcher Hall in 1955 and installed the Rev. John F. Little as the administrator of the school. The AME Church also supported numerous other institutions in the Liberia Annual Conference, including facilities in Cape Palmas, in the Gedebo Interior, and other areas. In the Ghana Annual Conference the Payne Collegiate Institute in Accra, which the Rev. J. P. B. Richards started in the 1930s, was an early venture in this jurisdiction. During this period 10 AME schools mostly in Accra were in operation. Other facilities impacted people in Essikadu, Essaman, Takoradi, Kumasi, and Sekesua.
The greatest growth in West Africa occurred during the 1988-1992 tenure of Bishop John R. Bryant. Phenomenal growth continues under the leadership of Bishop Adam J. Richardson who has undertaken an extensive building and renovation program, as well as the maintenance of fifteen primary schools, six secondary schools and one college with a collective enrollment of 9,000 students. The total number of churches now stands at 108 and nearly 13,000 members.
West Angola, United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Gaspar Joao Domingos West Angola, United Methodist Church
Zambia, United ChurchContact: Bishop Mutale Mulumbwa Zambia, United Church
Church unity in Zambia dates back to the country’s first General Missionary Conference held in Livingstone in 1914. But even more significant, as far as church unity is concerned, is the 1931 General Missionary Conference held at Kabwe (Broken Hill). This conference approved the formation of United Missions in the Copperbelt which would provide pastoral services to Christians flocking from rural churches for work at the emerging copper mines. Thus the Union Church of the Copperbelt was virtually initiated by mine workers themselves. Missions involved in the United Missions on the Copperbelt were: The Church of Central Africa Mission, represented by Rev. R. J. B. Moore; the Church of Scotland; The Methodist Church; and The Baptist Church, represented by Rev. A.J. Cross.
The Church of Central Africa Mission, the Church of Scotland and the Union Church of the Copperbelt formed the Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia. Further groups joined in the formation on July 26, 1958, of the United Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia.
Continued union negotiations with the Methodist Church eventually led the Methodists and the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society to join the UCCAR in 1965 to form the United Church of Zambia. Rev. Colin Morris became its first president with Rev. Doyce Musunsa as the Synod Clerk.
The United Church of Zambia is the largest Protestant church in the country and despite short-lived schisms it has continued to grow numerically. The United Church of Zambia, among other tasks, seeks to create more awareness in the nation of the presence of the church as a missionary and prophetic institution.
Zimbabwe, African Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop K.P. Nemapare Zimbabwe, African Methodist Church
The African Methodist Church in Zimbabwe was founded in May 1947 by Rev. Dr. E. T. J. Nemapare, a teacher who turned theologian and was later ordained in the British Methodist Church. Beginning as a small church at Ngezi Missionar Station near Mvuma, it soon spread to the rural areas. Branches were established in the city of Bulawayo, Gweru, Harare and Masvingo.
Today the church works in the ecumenical environment through the Zimbabwe Council of Churches but maintained its roots in the areas where it has constructed schools and clinics.
The church is an indigenous independent organization which relies on the contributions from its members. The structures of the church are continuously being examined so that they remain open to spread the good news of the Gospel in a complex society/ community.
We have 21,000 members and a constituency of about 30,000 people who rally from the wider brotherhood in which we serve. The golden anniversary of the church was celebrated in 1997.
Zimbabwe, Methodist ChurchContact: Presiding Bishop Amos Ndhlumbi Zimbabwe, Methodist Church Visit Website
The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe which originated in Wesleyan British Methodism came to Zimbabwe under the leadership of Rev. Owen Watkins and Rev. Isaac Shimmin, who arrived at Fort Salisbury on September 29, 1891.
The first mission stations were established at Fort Salisbury (1891); Hartlyton (1891); Nenguwo (Waddilove) (1892); and Kwenda (1892). The work at these stations was made possible by the arrival of the Rev. George H. Eva and eight African evangelists and teachers from the Transvaal and Cape colony of South Africa in August 1892. Rev. Isaac Shimmin welcomed these evangelists and teachers because he believed that the evangelization of Africa could best be done by the Africans witnessing to Africans. A new mission station was established in Matebeleland in the western part of the country in 1894 at Makokoba in Bulawayo.
The first Synod was in Harare in Mashonaland in 1895 under the chairmanship of the Rev. George Weavind – Chairman of the Transvaal District of the Methodist Church in South Africa. By this time Synod noted that already 3,000 adults regularly listened to the gospel and 700 children attended Sunday School.
From Owen Watkins and Isaac Shimmin a succession Chairman of District under the British Conference followed – namely John White, Frank Noble, Herbert Carter, Jesse Lawrence and Andrew M. Ndhlela (1965). Andrew Ndhlela marked the end of white leadership in the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe but the church only got its autonomy from the British Conference in 1977 – Andrew Ndhlela becoming the first President of an Autonomous Church. He was succeeded by President Crispin Mazobere, Caspen Makuzwa and Farai J. Chirisa who became the first bishop in 1989. Rev. Cephas Z. Mukandi came after Bishop Chirisa and was the first Presiding Bishop. He retired from this office in 2004 and Reverend Margaret M. James was the Acting Presiding Bishop in 2005. She was succeeded by the current Presiding Bishop, Reverend Simbarashe Sithole.
Over the period of now 115 years the Methodist Church has been involved in preaching the gospel throughout the country involving Men’s Christian Union, Women’s Fellowship organization, Boys Christian Union, Girls Christian Union and a vibrant Youth Department to cater for work among young people and children. The church has been involved in agricultural work, primary and secondary education. The church runs eleven primary schools, two secondary schools and eight high schools. It is planning to establish a Southern African Methodist University in the Mashonaland Province.
Zimbabwe, United Methodist ChurchContact: Bishop Eben Kanukayi Nhiwatiwa Zimbabwe, United Methodist Church Visit Website
Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell is associated with the beginning of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). After arriving in Mutare on December 10. 1897, he organized the first congregation two days later on December 12, 1897 and forty people attended this first service which was held at a general dealer’s store, the present site of the Puzey and Payne garage in the city of Mutare at which the bishop preached. After applying for permission to start mission work for the church and subsequent to meeting with Cecil Rhodes, a business man and administrator of the British Colony of Rhodesia, who owned the property, the site for the Old Mutare Mission was donated by Mr. Rhodes.
The first Methodist Church for Africans was built in the town of Mutare and continues with the name of Hilltop United Methodist Church. The church soon began to spread fast in the villages due to the enthusiasm for the gospel and evangelism on the part of the newly converted African evangelists.
Soon after the conference was established here, the church quickly realized that the future and the strength of the church lay in the proper and adequate training of the African preachers. The first African preachers were ordained in 1942 and this move ushered in a new era in which Africans began to participate at the highest level of conference decision making. The first black Zimbabwean woman to graduate with a university degree was a United Methodist, a product of this program. Also a product of the church’s program was the first black Zimbabwean to qualify and graduate from university as a medical doctor. The first comprehensive agricultural
irrigation scheme in Zimbabwe’s poor villages was introduced and developed under the church’s rural development program. The church has been involved in extensive program of evangelization and rural development through comprehensive programs of education, medical and health care services.
From the time of Bishop Hartzell, a succession of bishops followed and great work was done. The appointment of Bishop Ralph Edward Dodge marked a turning point in the Africanization of the church and the Zimbabwean society. The bishop embarked on an intentional policy of sending young men and women to study in the United States, and upon returning home these became leaders in the church and in society. As a climax to this Africanization, Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa was elected the first African bishop in the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. He espoused the concept of salvation for the whole person and became an avid critic of the colonial racist regime in the country. With a rapid turn of events the bishop became the first black prime minister of the nation of Zimbabwe.
The church currently runs three hospitals, several clinics, two nurses training schools, numerous primary/elementary and high schools (three of which offer junior college-level courses) and a teachers’ college. All are run by Africans except the hospitals which rely heavily on missionaries or doctors from overseas. The establishment of Africa University at Old Mutare in 1992, is a landmark achievement for all of Africa.
During the protracted war for liberation which ended in 1980 in Zimbabwe, the church was hated and its leaders were detained and harassed by the Rhodesian security agents. It was (ironically) during this period that the church grew very rapidly, mainly as a result of the new secret house churches which emerged and began to meet underground in vans as members traveled to and from work and in homes for prayer and fellowship and Bible study and holy Communion.
Because of continued growth and expansion the church is always short of adequately trained pastors for the fast expanding work. Membership continues to grow as there are more areas which must still be reached by the gospel. The present generation looks back and commends the faith of the founding fathers and mothers, and rejoices in what has been accomplished and hopes for more blessings to come. Year-long celebrations of its centennial in 1997 focused on personal holiness and the desire to spread the same throughout the land.