Our World Wide Church Family
The World Methodist Council is made up of 80 Methodist, Wesleyan and related Uniting and United Churches representing over 40.5 million members in 138 countries1. To find a member church in your area please 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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 26 churches / preaching centers (having 9 English speaking congregations and 23 Mandarin speaking congregations) in all the major cities in Australia except Darwin. The present bishop is Bishop Dr. James Kwang.
There are presently 29 elders, 9 deacons and 2 pastors on trial. Total registered membership in 2006 was 1482.
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.
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.