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 history of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma is closely related if not synonymous with the history of this relative young South Pacific nation. It was the missionary zeal and highly disciplined evangelical thrust that saw the members of the Wesleyan Missionary Society penetrate the islands of Fiji, beginning in October 1935. Since that time, Wesleyan Christianity has become well integrated into local culture of the indigenous people.
In April 1854 the then paramount chief of Fiji, Ratu Seru Cakobau was converted to Christianity. Following this conversion, many people openly confirmed their faith in the gospel. This gospel has become a significant pillar in the maintenance of Fijian society.
When British rule was introduced in 1874, the government became the third strand in the new orthodoxy which evolved as the embodiment of Fijian consciousness. These three strands are commonly known as Vanua (way of the land), Lotu (Christianity), Matanitu (state). Throughout these last 160 years, the Methodist Church in Fiji has enjoyed the close working together of these three strands.
1879 saw the coming of Asian Indians. They were imported as indentured laborers for the sugar cane industry. They had come with their religion, language, culture and customs. The Fiji home mission responded to the Indian challenge in Fiji by setting up the Indian Mission in 1892 to address their condition of work and witness to the loving care of God. Work lapsed until Ms. Hannah Dudley arrived in October 1897.
Dudley Church and Dudley High School stand as testimony to her devotion and commitment to he cause of the gospel. Membership of Indo-Fijian Methodists is 2,243 out of a 213,000 Methodist population.
The Rotuman Mission was under the Fiji District of the Wesleyan Missionary Society since 1841. Rotumans on the island of Rotuma are predominantly Methodist. They have continued to grow in their number and persistence in faith in Fiji as well as in countries outside Fiji such as Australia and New Zealand. Rotumans in Suva, Fiji, have built one of the finest buildings with modern architectural art with a sitting capacity of 1,000.
In 1987, Fiji suffered two military coups. This event became an important turning point in the country’s political history. It placed the Methodist Church in a shaky and difficult situation. It was left with a crisis of identity. An authentic and clear witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is now called for in order for the church to recapture its identity. The Church is convinced that it must continue its missionary obedience, availing itself to assist in any way possible to become an instrument of peace, justice and unity in our multi-coloured society.
Strong challenges from new religious groups, enthusiasts and spirited cults are among the new forces the church faces today. The spiritual life of our people at the grass root level is maintained, affirmed and renewed in the church’s worship. The evangelical disciplined faith has always been a feature of the spirituality of the Fijian people. As the church moves on to the third millennium, the challenge still stands to seek new ways of witnessing to the lordship of Christ in a new pluralistic situation.
On the Finnish side of the Bay of Bothnia, Methodist preaching began to be heard by 1859 and the years to follow. Gustaf Lervik, a coxswain who had returned to his homeland, began to preach in his home country after being converted aboard the Bethel Ship in New York. Later, the Bärlund brothers joined in as preachers. In the 1880’s, impulses from Sweden led to a new start for Methodism in Finland, and the first congregation was established in 1881. Methodism in Finland fell in under the Sweden Annual Conference and had status as a district under the leadership of Superintendent B.A. Carlsen. In 1887 the first Finnish-speaking congregations arose, and two years later B.A. Carlsen established a mission to Russia, with meetings held in St. Petersburg, leading shortly thereafter to congregational development. The Czar, who at the time ruled both Russia and Finland, gave official approval in 1892 to the Methodist Church in both states. The Sweden Annual Conference organized “The mission in Finland and St. Petersburg” during the same year. In 1907,
German-American Dr. George A. Simons (son of Frisian immigrants from Sylt, in Schleswig) was appointed as superintendent in St. Petersburg. The link to Sweden weakened, and under his leadership the work developed rapidly with ramifications for Russia and Estonia. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 put a stop to all possibilities for church growth, yet, in spite of opposition, the work continued into the 1920’s. The Methodist Church in Finland gathered for the first time as an independent Annual Conference in 1911. The church had 1,568 members. In keeping with the development in Finland after its independence, the work was separated in a
Swedish-speaking and a Finnish-speaking conference in 1923. Finnish-speaking Methodism suffered greatly during World War II, since 60% of its members lived in regions that were incorporated into the Soviet Union.
Today the Finland Finnish AC has 800 members and 9 congregations. Two of the congregations have seen a strong increase in membership and four congregations have regular work with children and youth. The economical situation is difficult.
The Finland Swedish AC has 1100 members and 14 congregations.. The church has decided that 2006-07 will be a Children’s Year and steps have been taken to focus on children’s and youth work. The economical situation is improving through prudent stewardship and an increase of tithing. The church is looking to the future with confidence.
In 1791 Wesleyan missionaries came to France from Great Britain. In the following years more than 20 congregations came into being. However, most of them joined the French Reformed Church in 1938. Today's «Union de l'Eglise Evangélique Méthodiste en France» was founded in 1868 in Alsace. This work was expanded to Southwest France in 1926. In 2005 the Methodist congregations, which did not join the French Reformed Church decades ago, were incorporated into the UMC. In 2008/2009 two congregations with Methodist roots from the Ivory Coast joined the church, as well. Today, important areas of emphasis of the UMC in France include working with children, youth, and women, evangelization, and the distribution of Christian literature. However, the congregations are also aware of their heritage of social service and take this mission seriously by helping people in need. At some places Chinese, Korean, and Cambodian congregations, which all have the status of associated congregations, meet in the buildings of the Methodist congregations. Points of contact between Church and society include several institutions with which the UMC is affiliated: the Bethesda charity, five homes for the elderly; two centers for vacation, contemplation and renewal; and seven Protestant bookstores.
The Free Methodist Church was organized in 1860 near Rochester, New York. Arising out of the conflict within the Methodist Episcopal Church over the Wesleyan interpretation of the doctrine of entire sanctification as well as issues such as slavery, free pews, secret societies, and freedom in worship, concerned ministers and laymen in eastern New York State encouraged Benjamin Titus Roberts to lead them in forming a new church.
The church is Wesleyan in doctrine and evangelical in spirit, evidenced by membership in the Christian Holiness Association and the National Association of Evangelicals.
Episcopal in nature, the church is organized into 12 general or provisional general conferences on 4 continents, each headed by a national bishop or bishops.
The Free Methodist Church sponsors both educational and benevolent institutions in North America and overseas. With headquarters at World Ministries Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, world membership stands at 395,000 with a total constituency of 650,000. The Free Methodist World Conference coordinates the ministries of the several jurisdictions.