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.
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