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
The largest Protestant Church in Pakistan today is the Church of Pakistan formed on November 1, 1970 on All Saints Day. This was the union of four churches, the Anglican Church, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church and Lutheran. There are eight dioceses equivalent of the conferences of the Church of Pakistan.
Among those eight dioceses, two are areas of the Methodist work, Multan and Raiwind. The Methodist Church also contributed a lot in pastoral and evangelistic work in the Diocese of Karachi and Hyderabad.
Urdu is the national language spoken by the majority. All the church services are conducted in Urdu but the Diocese of Hyderabad is mainly an evangelistic diocese. The Hyderabad Diocese, among the eight dioceses, is involved in working among the Hindu Tribals.
The majority of the Christians are living in the rural areas of the country and they are working as landless farmers or working in brick factories as laborers. The Urban area Christians are working as sanitary workers, but very few doctors, engineers and educationists. Most of the educated people have left or are leaving the country as they don’t have a bright future.
The Church of Pakistan has served for many years through the hospitals, schools, hostels and vocational centers by training the boys and girls in carpentry, sewing and in other areas of earning. Hostels are also playing a big role in order to nurture boys and girls making them honorable citizens of the country.
Population of Pakistan is 140 million with annual population growth of 3.1 percent. Literacy rate is 24 percent female and 38 percent male. Infant mortality is 95 per 1000, with one doctor per 2000 people, and one hospital bed per 2110 people. Annual income per family is $200 rural and $350 to $380 urban. The main cities are Islamabad, the capital city, with 450,000, and Karachi, the largest city with 10.8 million.
The Methodist Church in Panama is the result of missionary efforts of Methodist ministers from the USA. There are two groups of Methodist churches in the Republic: the Evangelical Methodist Church of Panama (formerly United Methodist Church), a direct result of missionary efforts from the United States; and the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas, a result of British missionary efforts among the West Indian descendants who came mainly for the construction of the Panama Canal.
In January 1906 the first missionary couple, Rev. and Mrs. James Elkins arrived. By 1908 a small chapel had been built with the name of “El Malecon” (The Sea Wall Methodist Church). A small day school met on the premises, known as “Panam College.” The school has experienced rapid growth and there are over 4,000 students of elementary and high school level. There is a section known as “laboral classes,” for adults who have not completed their high school education.
Due to the continuing growth, the church dedicated much time to youth work, establishing youth camps and hostels.
There are eight organized congregations with membership ranging from 40 to 250 members, seven preaching points or missions, and present membership is approximately 2,000. Mission work has been established in Chiriqui among the Guyami Indians.
The church became autonomous in 1973 and has worked to develop national leadership in order to assume all church responsibilities.
The first Methodist worship gathering in Paraguay was held April 9, 1988. Two years earlier, Brazilian lay preacher Dr. Norival Trinidade and his wife Ruth had initiated missionary trips to Paraguay, pursuing a vision they had personally received from the Lord. The vision was shared by the Rev. and Mrs. Virgil Maybray from Wilmore, Kentucky (USA) and with a group of Brazilian clergy and laity.
The Rev. Pablo Mora Bogado and his wife Claudete, who pastored a church in Brazil at the time accepted the challenge and became the first resident missionaries to Paraguay. They arrived in the country in march of 1988. Together with the Trinidades, the Mora Bogados began the work. The second missionary couple, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Inglis, from Atlanta, Georgia (USA) arrived in Paraguay in July of 1988.
In an unusual form, the Methodist Evangelical Community of Paraguay was born national and autonomous with strong support from individuals, local churches and missionary sending agencies in the United States, Brazil and South Korea.
The first Methodist congregation was established in Asuncion, the capital. At the same time the first Korean congregation was planted, under the Korean Church appointed missionary Rev. Chul Ki Kim.
In 1996 there were 16 congregations in the capital and in ten other towns and villages. There were 1,300 baptized church members and 2,800 participants. A small 40-bed hospital and mobile clinic operate in the capital and small villages in the interior of the country. The church maintains an elementary school in a local Indian reservation and a Bible Institute for training local pastors and national leaders. Workers leading the churches include missionaries from Brazil, the United States, Korea and Paraguayan pastors and local preachers.
Paraguay is a unique country in South America, as its entire population maintained its native language. There are two official languages, Spanish, which was brought by Spanish settlers and Guarani, which is known as the ‘heart language’ of the people. There are also small groups of indigenous people with their own cultures and languages. The Methodist Church is looking for a way to reach out and to evangelize some of these, using native Christian evangelists for the task. One of the strongest congregations is located in one of the reservations of the Tobas. The church also maintains an elementary school and a small cooperative, having built a number of houses with them, connected the village with electricity, treated water and availability of permanent medical assistance.
The first attempts to begin Methodist work in Peru were made by Rev. William Taylor (1877-1878), who tried to establish an autonomous mission church and schools, in the south of Peru where many immigrant workers from England and North America were contracted by the railway company.
The first attempt failed and was closed because of the Pacific war (Peru, Chile and Bolivia) and because many of the missionaries caught yellow fever and tuberculosis and some of them died.
After the war, mission work resumed, especially in the capital city of Lima and the most important seaport city of Callao. Rev. Francisco Penzotti, a colporteur of the American Bible Society, a Methodist minister of Argentinian-Italian background began to preach and to distribute Spanish-language Bibles to his neighbors in Callao. Because of this he was persecuted, imprisoned, and was in jail in Real Felipe from July 1890 to March 1891.
It was in this way the first Methodist Church of Callao was founded on July 10, 1889. It was the first evangelical Spanish-speaking church in Peru. The first Peruvian families who were a part of the “fellowship” were migrants from the rural areas of the country who were plumbers, backers, single mothers, widows—people who had left their roots and were alone. Marginalized by society, they found a warm welcome in the Methodist Church.
Rev. Thomas B. Wood arrived in 1891, and helped to consolidate the work of the church, founded two schools and helped in the struggle for civil rights (liberty of religion, right to civil marriage and against all forms of restriction of personal rights).
The first Peruvian ministers to be ordained were the Rev. Adolfo Vasquez, Jose Illescas and Ruperto Algorta.
The Methodist Church of Peru became autonomous on January 19, 1970. The church is composed of six districts with a over 5,500 members.
Large Methodist schools include: Colegio America del Callao, Colegio Maria Alvarado, Colegio Andino, Colegio America de la Victoria, Colegio Daniel Alcides Carrion, and an ecumenical center, Comunidad Biblico Teologica “Wenceslao Bahamonde,” trains church leaders and future ministers. In addition there are small local schools and kindergartens spread across the country.
Social work includes communal kitchens and feeding programs. Methodists in Peru try to find meaningful solutions to the needs and challenges that the circumstances of the country offer, acknowledging the Wesleyan theme that the “world is our parish.”
The United Methodist Church in the Philippines has three episcopal areas: Davao Episcopal Area, Baguio Episcopal Area and Manila Episcopal Area. The Davao Episcopal Area has six annual conferences: Mindanao, East Mindanao, Northwest Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and Mindoro. The Baguio Episcopal Area also has six conferences: Central Luzon, North Central Luzon, Northwest, Northeast, Northern and Pangasinan. The Manila Episcopal Area also has six annual conferences and one provisional conference: Philippines, Philippines East, Middle Philippines, West Middle, Bulacan, Dampango and Bicol Provisional. The Philippines Central Conference has three incumbent bishops individually assigned as resident bishop to each area.
The work is served by ordained elders, deacons, lay pastors, diaconal ministers and volunteer lay preachers. Women’s children’s and youth work is carried on in all levels: local parish, district and annual conference, with the help of deaconesses and pastors. Social welfare work is administered by five social centers and student services are managed by twelve student centers. Urban and rural community development, community-based comprehensive primary health care program, environmental are and protection program and agricultural development projects are mainly served by lay and clergy persons-in-mission. In response to rising issues of indigenous people’s rights, human rights, justice, peace and integrity of creation, active prophetic social involvement is carried on by the Board of Church and Society of the annual conferences.
Formation of church workers is served by three seminaries, seven Bible Schools, and one college for deaconesses. The general educational program includes two universities, three colleges, five high schools and a significant number of kindergarten and elementary schools. The educational program is administered and supervised by administrative heads, faculty and staff members who are national leaders. Missionaries assist national leaders in various ways.
The strength of the self-support programs of the church in the Philippines is its emphasis in Christian education, stewardship, mission and evangelism, resource development and social concerns. Well organized program agencies include church schools, daily vacation church schools, school for Christian youth development, lay institutes, United Methodist Youth Fellowship, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women and Clergy Spouses Association. Leadership in ecumenical activities is provided from the local church level as well as at national and international levels.
The Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas (Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines) was founded in 1909 and will soon celebrate its centennial anniversary of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, mostly to Filipinos in the Philippines and elsewhere in the globe. As a connectional Church, it has local congregations throughout the Philippine islands, in America, and in some parts of the world.
The Church was founded in the desire of Filipinos for freedom from alien control. When the Americans came to the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, they brought with them the more enlightened evangelical faith which was welcomed by Filipinos with great enthusiasm. After a decade of mission work under American missionaries, a group of Filipino preachers wanted to carry on evangelistic work in the Philippines under the leadership and aegis of Filipino evangelists. The Americans tried to dissuade the group, advising them that they were still much too young in the work to be undertaking such a bold and radical move.
The Filipino group, however, felt that the time was ripe. Led by the first-ordained Filipino Protestant minister, the Rev. Nicolas Zamora (who was a nephew of the immortal Gomez-Burgos-Zamora triumvirate of martyred priests executed by the Spaniards for patriotic leanings), this group of Filipino preachers seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church and founded the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines) on February 28, 1909 as an evangelical Church that is self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting.
Since the leadership of Bishop Zamora, ten more General Superintendents have steered the Church through many troubled waters. Even now as it faces the 21st century, the Church restates with even more firm commitment its main mission of spreading the Word of God in the Philippines and throughout the world, so that man will “know Christ and the power of His resurrection”, worshipping together and serving others in love.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) was formed on May 25, 1948 from an organic union of different Protestant denominations, mostly from those which came from the United States during the early part of the twentieth century. The traditions of the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterians, the Congregational, the Evangelical United Brethren, the Philippine Methodist, and several autonomous congregations from the UNIDA and IEMELIF (Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas) all contribute to UCCP’s unique identity.
The UCCP now has grown to over 2,500 local and worshipping congregations and outreaches, 20 church-related schools and universities, and 5 church-related hospitals/health centers throughout the Philippines. It has three mandated lay organizations, the National Christian Women’s Association, the National United Church Men, and the National Christian Youth Fellowship. The 1994 National Census has pegged the UCCP membership at close to a million members. Of the 65 million Filipinos, more than 10 percent form its constituency.
Under a new constitution and by-laws (1993) the church is governed by the General Assembly which meets every four years to charts its ministry and elect its National Council. It is at present grouped geographically into four jurisdictional areas, each headed by a jurisdictional bishop; the jurisdictional area is in turn grouped into a total now of 38 conferences, each headed by a conference minister. There are close to 3,000 church workers, classified as ordained, lay church workers, deaconesses/Bible women.
Ecumenical in nature, the UCCP is a member of local and international bodies such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Christian Conference of Asia, the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Christian Peace Conference, the World Methodist Council and recently, the United Evangelical Mission. It has also a number of international covenants with other churches such as the United Church of Christ in Canada, United Church of Christ in USA, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of USA, Suomen Ekumeenisen Kasuatkuksen, Yhdistys of Finland, Presbyterian Church of Aoteroa New Zealand, Dienste in Ubersee of Germany and the Uniting Church in Australia.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, as expressed in its Statement of Faith, is a growing and transforming organization of people whose creed is to live out God’s will for all of life and creation as epitomized by Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. In 1998 the Golden Jubilee and the 100 years of Protestant witness in the Philippines was celebrated.
Following the First World War, Methodist congregations were formed in various places in Poland thanks to the missionary and humanitarian efforts of the US-based “Methodist Episcopal Church, South” and in 1921 the Methodist Church in Poland was officially founded. It was run by Americans until the beginning of World War II. Then the local Methodists took over responsibility, and guided the Church through the following decades, which were anything but easy. Because of changes in the national borders in the course of WWII, the Methodist Church lost about one third of its congregations in regions now belonging to Lithuania, Byelorus, and Ukraine. At the same time, in some places in western Poland (former eastern Prussia) the congregational work was taken over by German Methodists. In 1945, the Methodist Church was officially recognized in Poland. This event was followed by the period of Communist rule, during which Church work was possible only against a strong “headwind” (e.g. various Methodist buildings were confiscated by the Polish government and have not been returned to this day; social institutions such as homes for children and the elderly were closed). In Masur during this period, some individual congregations of the Lutheran-Reformed “Unierte Kirche” joined the Methodists.
After 1989, the political changes presented many new possibilities for making an impact in society with Word and Deed. And thanks to the strong interest in missionary work in Poland and its eastern neighbors, many of these opportunities were realized. For example, considering its small size, the Methodist Church has a surprising presence on radio and TV, which frequently helps people who are searching for meaning to find their way to a congregation.
Today, the UMC in Poland also runs various language schools for English, a theological seminary in Klarysew (one of the official training schools in the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe) and a youth hostel in Stare Juchy. On the one hand, these institutions are points of Email between the UMC and its surroundings, and on the other, they are places where people are trained to serve society.
In many congregations the work with children, youth, and women is thriving, and today, social initiatives are manifest mainly in concrete, local projects, where for example needy people are offered meals. Against the backdrop of large-scale societal problems (unemployment and poverty) and in connection with the requirements associated with the return of seized properties in western Poland, the social efforts of the UMC will be intensified and the projects more closely coordinated. The project “A Glass of Water”, which is aimed at alcoholics and their families, is one step in this direction.
In Roman Catholic-dominated Poland, the UMC is recognized and appreciated as a Church, and in the past as in the present, Methodist personalities have often proved to be excellent bridge builders in interdenominational relations. One result of this activity is an agreement for cooperation in preaching and communion with the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church, as well as an agreement on mutual recognition of baptism between the six Churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council and the Roman Catholic Church.
The origin of the Methodist Church in Portugal arose from the witness of two English laymen, Thomas Chegwin in 1854 and James Cassels ten years later, who were responsible for initiating small groups for prayer and Bible study following the pattern established by John Wesley and his class system.
In 1868 Portugal’s first Methodist Church was built in Vila Nova de Gaia where the first baptisms and services of Holy Communion were celebrated. The growth of Methodism under the leadership of Cassels was clearly evident, and persistent appeals were made to the Methodist Missionary Society in London for a missionary to assist his work. The request was eventually granted and a young minister, Robert Hawkey Moreton, was sent in 1871.
Moreton was a prudent man who never received anyone into membership without a prolonged inquiry. Within a few years the Methodist Church was building the Mirante Methodist Church, its first place of worship in Porto, and launching its great educational crusade against a high rate of illiteracy by opening primary schools. Meanwhile the future spiritual leaders of the church were emerging, the most prominent of them being Rev. Dr. Alfredo Henriques da Silva who succeeded Moreton, who expanded the work of the church during the more favourable years of the first Republic.
Between 1920 and 1940 the Portuguese Evangelical Methodist Church experienced its most fruitful period of expansion, recruiting members from all social classes, increasing the number of its schools and confirming itself as one of the most dynamic and prestigious evangelical churches in the country.
During this era the Church produced various publications of a spiritual and intellectual quality; most outstanding was the monthly “Portugal Evangélico”, the oldest Portuguese evangelical publication.
The isolation created by the World War II, a lengthy dictatorship, the lack of continuity of leadership when Rev. Alfredo da Silva began to age and the shortage of preachers gave rise to a crisis in leadership, which the Synod sought to resolve by once more appealing for ministerial support. This resulted in the appointment of the Rev. S. G. Wood and in 1954 the Rev. Albert Aspey, who for 29 years assumed the leadership of the church. During the time new areas of work thrived, the number of ministers increased, the church became involved in the ecumenical movement and, although forced to close down its primary schools, redirected its social program to concentrate on other types of community service including projects in support of children and the aged.
In 1984 the church returned to leadership by a national when the Rev. Ireneu da Silva Cunha was elected as chairman. The following year the Synod, meeting in Aveiro, took the decision to proceed towards autonomy. With the approach of the 125th anniversary of Moreton’s arrival in Porto and following consultation with the Methodist Missionary Society, the 1994 Synod resolved to draw up the required statutes and regulations, and approached the Conference of the Methodist Church in Great Britain with a view to assuming full autonomy. This was granted in June 1996 by the Conference in Blackpool, and officially transferred October 26, 1996, in Porto. The Portuguese Methodist Church is now fully autonomous, a member of the Methodist European Council and of the World Methodist Council.
The work is centred in Porto and covers mainly the northern half of the country, in 14 local churches. The membership is around 1,000 in a church community of 2,000. There are eight Portuguese full-time ministers, one of them the first Portuguese woman pastor; one having a secular job and one retired. There are sixteen deacons and deaconesses to preach, two deaconesses to serve in areas of need in the life of the Church and two still called lay preachers. The women and the youth have their own organized departments.
Plans are underway for the building of a large community centre in Porto and for developing work in Lisbon, where there is a good number of Angolan Methodists who did integrate the Portuguese Church.
The church is committed to social action with solidarity centres to support aged people and children, one in Aveiro area, another one in the mountain village of Valdozende and another one in Braga city. A new solidarity project is being developed in Porto to support children and families in need. There is increased ecumenical cooperation with the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches through the Portuguese Council of Churches, which shares in several areas of ecumenical life.
The main aim of the Church is to share Jesus in words and actions blessed by God and guided through the Holy Spirit.
Methodism began in Puerto Rico in 1900. There are presently 11,000 members. Under Methodist auspices are a youth camp, a health multi-service center, women’s conference grounds, a clinic in Esperanza Vieques, youth center and ecumenical community programs in Comeiro and Barrio Obrero, Arecibo. The former Woman’s Division school for girls in suburban San Juan has evolved into a Community High School for girls and boys.
The Puerto Rico Annual Conference, formerly a member of the Philadelphia Area of the United Methodist Church, began work in 1972 to become an independent Methodist Church, with the desire of the Puerto Rican Methodists to build a church led by its own people. At the 1992 General Conference of the United Methodist Church a proposal was adopted to make the Puerto Rican Church an affiliated autonomous church. Under the agreement, provision was made for an eight-year transitional period, intended to insure close coordination and adequate mission support for the Puerto Rican church. Bishop Victor L. Bonilla, former superintendent of the San Juan District, said the autonomous status will enable the church to play a key role “in the Hispanic world, especially the Caribbean/Latin American World.”