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.
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.
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.
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.