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
More than 130 years ago, missionaries from the USA laid the cornerstone for Protestant work in the territory of what is now Macedonia. Macedonian freedom fighters, trying to pry their country loose from the Ottoman Empire, also contributed to this early work. Captured and sent to prison in Thessaloniki, their hearts were changed, and after being released, they returned home with a new mission: to spread the Gospel.
However, the Methodist mission in Macedonia would never have developed so well without the faith and courage of “Bible women” who travelled to remote areas in spite of poor roads and the scorn, stone-throwing, and brutality of scoffers. These “Bible women” not only passed on the Good Word of the Gospel; they taught other women to read and write (which meant that these women could now also read the Bible), organized sewing groups and nursing courses, and provided people with help and advice in all sorts of areas. In nearly every place where the Bible Women were active, there appeared not just local schools, but also congregations.
Yet these newly founded congregations faced a high level of initial resistance, even though their members always worked for the good of the entire community. Their meeting houses were burned, and in the beginning, those who converted to Christianity were often thrown into prison. But the congregations survived this treatment. They still exist today, and they are growing!
For more than ten years, the UMC has been officially recognized by the Republic of Macedonia. So today, the Church is fighting a different kind of battle. The past years, with political unrest, war, and waves of refugees, have led to economic misery. Unemployment is around forty percent, and many people live far below the poverty level. So far, there is no viable social safety net (welfare payments of 30 Euros/month for a family of four don’t go very far). The mere expenses for groceries, firewood, and medicines are beyond the means of many people.
The congregations do what they can to counter this need in the name of Jesus Christ, with words of hope and deeds of love. In doing so, they overcome the nationalist tendencies by providing support to minorities. For example, in several places they have developed evangelization programs and social efforts for Rom, and organize regular international youth camps with participants from Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Germany, and the USA.
Institutional services and social support for individuals are equally important. Thus, with generous support from abroad, the UMC has built a social service center in Strumica, a city in the eastern part of the country. This center provides elderly, needy people with a warm meal each day under the auspices of “Meals on Wheels” and with additional assistance.
The very active and diverse dialogue with other Churches (Orthodox, Catholic) and religious communities (Jews, Muslims) is an important contribution towards a common, peaceful future of the country.
Today, Macedonia and Serbia are two politically independent countries, but the UMC congregations still form one organizational unit (Annual Conference) with two districts. However, due to the unfavorable economic situation, they are able to cover only about 10% of their own budget, and the lack of pastors is also a heavy burden, although this latter aspect is improving.
With great dedication and faith in God, the members of the UMC accept these challenges. The call to Paul in the Book of Apostles “Come here to Macedonia and help us!” is just as current now as it was 2,000 years ago
The Methodist work began in this area with the arrival of William F. Oldham in Singapore on February 7, 1885. He was accompanied by Dr. James M. Thoburn (later Bishop), Methodist missionary in India, and they were to undertake the first foreign mission work of the Indian Methodist Church. Dr. Thoburn preached the first sermon at the Singapore Town Hall the next day.
The work of the Methodists under Oldham grew in several directions. Linguistically the work begun in English was extended to Tamil, Chinese and Malay. Geographically, new work started in key towns along the Malay Peninsular. Methodism came to Sarawak in East Malaysia with the arrival of Methodists from China in 1901. Missionaries extended the work there. Work also started amongst the indigenous peoples in East and West Malaysia.
In 1950 Methodists in Singapore and Malaysia, Indonesia and Burma formed the South-Eastern Asia Central Conference, a part of the General Conference of the Methodist Church (USA). In 1968 the General Conference granted the constitution of the affiliated autonomous Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore.
The Rev. Dr. Yap Kim Hao was elected the first Bishop of the autonomous church in 1968. The Rev. Theodore R. Doaraisamy was elected in 1973 to succeed him.
In December 1976, the Methodist Church in Malaysia and the Methodist Church in Singapore were constituted following the formation of an independent Singapore.
The Rev. C. N. Fang was elected the first Bishop of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, serving for three terms from 1976 – 1988. The Rev. Dr. Denis C. Dutton was elected Bishop in 1988 and served for two terms. He was followed by the Rev. Dr. Peter Chio Sing Ching, elected Bishop in 1996. The current Bishop is the Rev. Dr. Hwa Yung, elected in 2004.
The Methodist Church in Malaysia is comprised of six Annual Conferences – the Chinese Annual Conference, Tamil Annual Conference and Trinity Annual Conference in West Malaysia; the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, the Sarawak Iban Annual Conference and the Sabah Provisional Annual Conference in East Malaysia – and one Mission Conference – the Sengoi Mission Conference. These cover the main language groups as well as some of the indigenous peoples of the country.
It has a membership of 98,000 adults and about 60,000 preparatory members below 16 years old. The World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford: 2001) estimates the total number affiliated with the Methodist Church in Malaysia at 230,000 persons. This makes it one of the three largest Protestant churches in the country.
History of Protestant work in Mexico has its roots in the 1810 independence movement led by dissident priests; introduction of Bibles in Spanish by 1826 and passage of the famous Civil Laws and Freedoms ratified in 1860 by the Benito Juarez government also played important roles in preparing ground for Protestantism.
All early Protestant missionaries founded their work on small groups meeting together to study the Bible. Out of such groups came some of the first pastors. For example, Alejo Hernandez was born into a wealthy family; his parents dedicated him to the priesthood at birth; seminary studies plus injustices involving the church caused him to turn this back on Christianity. He enlisted in the army to fight the French who were defending the throne of Mexico for Maximillian. Taken prisoner, Hernandez became convinced he needed to know more about the Bible. Later, in Brownsville, Texas, in search of a Bible and help to understand it, a recorded testimony tells how he felt himself moved in a way never before experienced. “I left weeping with holy joy.” With Bible in hand he returned to Mexico to share his new faith, but was turned away by family and church and forced to flee to Texas. In Corpus Christi a Methodist pastor invited him to form a class of Mexicans residing there; soon he was ordained deacon at the West Texas Conference in 1871 and assigned work in Nuevo Laredo. This was the first organized thrust into Mexico by Methodists; not the denomination but one Annual Conference.
Bishop John Keener, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, followed and purchased a “place for public worship” in February 1873. The Methodist Episcopal Church began work with a decision by the Council of Bishops in November 1872 to send Dr. William Butler who had previously served 17 years in India. Prior to Dr. Butler’s arrival, Bishop Gilbert Haven was sent to explore possibilities for work in December 1872. Returning to the USA in March 1873, he left four established congregations, preliminary work for several others and ground work for the purchase of the Gante Methodist Church in Mexico City.
On July 8, 1930, Methodism in Mexico became united and thus the Methodist Church in Mexico (Iglesia Metodista de Mexico) was born as an autonomous church. Its bishops are elected every four years. At present this church has six episcopal areas that cover 28 of the 30 states of the nation and the federal district. It has 150,000 members, 400 churches, and an estimated total Methodist community of 300,000.
It has a university, two theological seminaries, 150 centers of Theological Studies on Extension, 12 schools from kindergarten to high school, four social centers, two hospitals, two orphanages, two homes for the elderly, two clinics and one girls’ hostel.
Late in 1990, the Igreja Methodista Unida em Mocambique observed the 100th anniversary of the beginning of church work in Mozambique. The theme of the celebration was, “One Hundred years of preaching the Gospel and witnessing through words and deeds without ceasing.”
The United Methodist Church in Mozambique had its beginnings in the southern province of Inhambane in 1890. From a small group the church grew steadily in spite of (or because of) persecution by the Colonial Portuguese, Roman Catholic government. After independence in 1975, the strong Marxist government closed and made it highly undesirable to profess the Christian faith.
The works of the churches continued, sometimes clandestinely, and were allowed to reopen in 1982 when President Samora Machel invited the churches to contribute to the development of the country.
A civil war which raged in Mozambique from 1976 to 1992 brought unbelievable suffering to the Mozambican people and during those years many people fled to possibly more secure places to live as internal refugees. They took the message of salvation and new churches were started and continue growing in places where the church never before existed.
Since 1982 the government authorities for the first time in history allowed the construction of new church buildings and although Mozambique is considered the poorest country in the world, the church members contributed to the construction of places of worship worthy of praise and thanksgiving.
The first Mozambique Bishop, Rev. Escrivao A. Zunguza, was elected in 1976. He worked during a hard time for the churches in Mozambique. He was called to work as a pacifist within the church and between the churches and government. In 1988 Bishop Joao Somane Machado was elected as the third Mozambican Bishop and continues to lead this rapidly growing church.
Since the year 2000 the church exists in the whole country, divided into two conferences: North of Save Annual Conference, constituted by 6 Ecclesiastical Districts with 3,500 members, and South of Save Annual Conference with 14 Ecclesiastical Districts and 115,000 members. Church programs include: evangelization and development programs; construction of churches, pastoral housing, schools; development of transportation and communications with superintendents and pastors to minimize the problem of lack of transportation and communication caused by long distances and lack of communication facilities; a program of perceiving the moral, social and religious values in society; support of all children’s programs; support of women’s programs; to create the self-sustaining church program that will be sable to carry its mission in very responsible and productive ways.
The Union of Myanmar (Burma) is geographically situated in Southeast Asia, with an estimated population of 47.25 million. There are 135 national races of which the main ethnic groups are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. Buddhism is the religion of the population with 89.3 percent. Christianity is practiced by 5.6 percent of the people, Islam by 3.8 percent, Hinduism by .5 percent and Animism by .2 percent.
The Rev. James M. Thoburn (1836-1922) came to India and heard about evangelistic opportunities in Yangon (Rangoon), Penang and Singapore from the sailors. He frequently received letters for help from the Indian Methodists who had settled in Yangon, which he shared with William Taylor in America. Taylor could not come immediately so sent Robert E. Carter of Ohio to Yangon to begin the mission. Thoburn immediately went to Yangon to work with Carter and the Methodists there. On Sunday, June 22, 1870, they organized an English-speaking church with 29 members. Ms. E. H. Warner was sent by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society in 1881, Miss Mary McKesson in 1882, and a girl’s school was established and opened the same year.
In 1884 the Myanmar Methodist Church became a district of the South India Conference. In 1885 Singapore was added. In 1892 the Myanmar district became the Bengal-Burma Conference and on February 2, 1902 it became the Myanmar Mission Conference under Bishop F. W. Warne.
In 1950 the Myanmar Annual Conference was included within the newly created Southeastern Asia Central Conference, comprised of the Malaya, the Malaysia Chinese, the Sarawak, the Sumatra, and the Myanmar Annual Conference, up to 1964. Raymond L. Archer served as Bishop from 1950 to 1956, and Hobart B. Amstutz from 1956 to 1964. On May 8, 1964 the General Conference approved the Methodist Church of the Union of Myanmar to be autonomous. The Sixty-Second Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Lower Myanmar was held on October 5-19, 1964 and the Rev. Lim Si Sin was elected to be the first national bishop in 1965. Second bishop was Rev. U Hla Sein, elected in 1969; Rev. C. F. Chu was elected in 1980 as third bishop, and Rev. U Pan Doke was elected in 1984 as the fourth bishop. The Methodist Theological Institute was founded in July 1987.
Rev. U Mya Thaung was elected in 1989 as the fifth bishop. In February 1994 the Annual Conference was split into two groups, each headed by their respective bishops, Rev. U Mya Thaung and Rev. U Maung Than. After six years of splitting and bitter division, in the year 2000 the conference was reunited and the Reunited Special Conference was convened on July 5, 2000. Rev. Zothan Mawia was elected bishop and Rev. U Saw Shaw was elected General Secretary of the Methodist Church of the Union of Lower Myanmar Annual Conference. There are 25 local churches, six gospel centres, 6 districts, 31 full-time preachers including 21 ordained ministers, 2,102 members and 3,270 community.
The Methodist Church has experienced great distress during the past years, but God never forsakes his people, the church and his ministers. He guided and empowered by His Holy Spirit. The storm of hardship is over and all the districts are trying to do their best in order to grow year-by-year. The number of ministers and pastors are inadequate in all districts, so the administration including the work of societies and ministering communion were unable to serve regularly in some churches. More workers are needed.
The capital and centre district Mandalay has a home mission field at Yinmabin, Tamabingwa Villages. The people are Burmese and belong to Buddhism, which is a part of their culture. One of the strongest districts is Tahan. The Rev. Haokhojam and Rev. Lalmuana have opened the seventh district at Mindat.
Evangelists are working in Homalin District, the furthest and very undeveloped area, with bad communications and transportation. The church was founded in1937. Evangelists have tried their best to spread the Gospel, and have never given up. They need funds, supplies, clothing and literature for distribution.
Sami area, located in Southern Chin States, is a concern of the Conference Mission and Evangelism Committee. The Conference supports the workers allowances and other expenses.