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 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
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.
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.
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.