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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.