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 Samoa Methodist Church was first established in 1828 by a Samoan, named Saivaaia followed by the first missionary in 1835. She became independent in 1964. Since then there has been an increase in the number of ordained ministers. The position of leadership is in the hands of the locals. The MCS developed many Pre-Schools, a Primary School, three Colleges and a Technical Institute as our mandate in developing programs in the areas of secular education, religious education and family life.
Piula Theological College continues to feed the church in providing ministers for the local and overseas parishes as well as to equip them for overseas missionary work.
Amid the challenge and the changes coming into our shore, the Samoa Methodist Church wishes to maintain her identity as Methodist in life and worship with open minds for change as we see fit.
The involvement of lay people is very much appreciated and their talents and gifts in putting more life into the discussion and decision making within the church. We do encourage them and pray that more men and women may willingly answer their calling and offer their services to God through his Church.
In the Conference of 2006, statistics showed that the Methodist Church of Samoa’s membership is 36,385, an increase of 1,263 from the previous five years, with an approximately 42,600 touched by the church. The number of lay preachers was 1,048 in 2001 and in 2006 1,048. The fluctuation in terms of the actual amount is owed to migration, retirement and death.
Migration has affected our number from time-to-time, so our figures are not stable. However, migration also speaks for one aspect of our members as being ‘people in mission.’ Our people in American Samoa, New Zealand, USA, Hawaii and Australia decided to establish their own parishes and have continued to connect them and their children to the Methodist Church in Samoa. There are 12 Synods abroad. There are 194 parishes; 92 are overseas. These parishes and Synods are represented annually to the General Conference of the Church held every July.
The Methodist Church of Samoa realizes that its task was to be a sending church, not only a receiving church. The MCS continues to send its ministers as missionaries in other countries. For this year, three Samoan Ministers are currently working for the Methodist Church in USA. We believe that the Methodist people around the world are all interconnected to their primary and common purpose for “winning souls for Christ.” Thus it is our prayer that Christ the Head lead of the Methodist Family will continue to inspire and guide us all.
The UMC’s work in the Vojvodina region (the northern part of what is now Serbia) was begun by German missionaries. German emigrants who had left their homeland and settled in this fertile region between the Danube and Theiss rivers to start new lives noticed them and invited them to come. Thus the first Methodist worship service was held in this region in 1898. Soon, the entire region was affected by a great awakening, and thriving new congregations were born (until 1904 exclusively among the German-speaking population, later among Hungarian speakers as well). But beginning in 1944, as a result of developments in the Second World War, the “Donauschwaben” or “Danube Swabians” were forced to leave the country or died in concentration camps. Since most pastors and members of the Methodist Church were members of this ethnic group, many churches were closed. It was a painful juncture in the Church’s history. One of the few positive aspects of this period is that the men and women who fled from Vojvodina took their faith with them to new countries, and thus founded new congregations.
However, the work of the Methodists in Serbia continued, albeit under more difficult conditions. The charitable and educational work was no longer allowed. Yet new congregations were founded among the Slovak, Hungarian, and Serbo-Croat speaking minorities. Just as in Macedonia, the “Bible women” played an important role in the growth of these congregations, and it is no coincidence that the second woman to be ordained a Deacon in the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe (Paula Mojzes, 1957) lived in what was then Yugoslavia. Under the pressure of the political situation at the time, several congregations of the “Blue Cross” also joined the Methodist Church in the 1950s.
Waves of emigration later led to the loss of significant numbers of members. Even today, following the political unrest, wars, and waves of refugees of the past years, many people, especially the young, see no hope for the future in their own country. The economy is weak, unemployment is high, and many people subsist far below the poverty level. Even groceries, electricity, and medicines are beyond the means of many people.
So spreading the Gospel must also mean living the Gospel and offering the people practical help (firewood, medicine, food). The congregations of the UMC do both. In a country that is searching for its identity, they overcome boundaries by caring for ethnic minorities, as in the evangelizing and social services for Rom which have been initiated in several places.
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 aspect is improving. With great dedication and faith in God, the members of the UMC accept these challenges.
The Methodist Church Sierra Leone had its roots in the group of freed slaves who arrived in Sierra Leone in 1792. Some Wesleyan Methodists had been in Email with Dr. Coke, founder of missions, a younger contemporary of John Wesley, whilst they were in Nova Scotia.
This group started to organize themselves into a church but had to appeal for help from Dr. Coke in Britian. This resulted in sending the first Wesleyan Methodist missionary in 1811, the Rev. George Warren.
Work continued in Freetown, the capital town, and its environs, but also spread to the interior by the end of the century. This had continued until now and the concentration of the work is mainly around the capital, and the southern and eastern parts of the country.
The church is divided into three synods, each with several circuits. Membership of the church was 38,758 up to 1998. Since then, the continuing rebel war has made certain areas of the country completely inaccessible. We have, therefore, not been able to assemble more accurate statistics for our membership. The total numbers takes into consideration the people in Guinea. Total ministerial strength is 86 (including 16 probationers). The program of the church includes education, health and community development.
There are 70 primary schools and 12 secondary schools. Many of the pupils have been members of the church and have subsequently made worthwhile contributions to the life and work of the church. The number of people affected by the work of the Methodist Church is 2.1 million. The number of people benefited by the work of the Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is about one and a half million.
Nixon Memorial Hospital in Segbwema, about 230 miles outside Freetown, dealt with a total of about 65,000 patients in 1995, nearly 4,000 of which were admissions. The hospital also acts as a clinic centre for primary health care programme serving the Njaluahun Chiefdom. While we wait to reopen Nixon we have opened two new health centres in Freetown and Kenema.
The work in the East and South was seriously hampered due to a rebel war and escalation of violence since 1991. Too many have been killed. We are thankful to God that the violence is now generally ebbing.
Two regional offices have been opened to serve displaced people in Bo (Southern Region) and Kennema (Eastern Region).
We call on the world community to pray for us as we are challenged first to find peace and then to rebuild our broken communities, churches, manses and schools.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone started as United Brethren in Christ in 1855. It merged with the Evangelicals in 1946 and became the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 it merged with The Methodist Church becoming The United Methodist Church. During this time, all presiding bishops were from the USA.
In 1973 the church assumed autonomy with the first indigenous resident bishop, the late Dr. Benjamin A. Carew, followed in 1979 by Bishop Thomas S. Bangura. Membership includes 94,500, with 6,200 probationary members and 12,200 constituent members. Potential for growth in all the churches is greater now than ever. In spite of the ravages of war during the last ten years, there is great spiritual reawakening.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is not only concerned with the spiritual needs of the people but also their physical and socio-economic needs. It operates 213 primary (elementary) and 20 secondary (high) schools. It runs 11 maternity and health centres throughout the country and one eye hospital with a full medical coordinator and two medical doctors. Three agricultural and community developments have been revitalized at Manjama (Bo District) Pa Lokko (Western District) and Yonibana (Northern District).
Service organizations for women, men, youth and young adults are active, and a strong children’s ministry. The women’s organization has three training centers: Betty Carew, Kono Musu and Urban Center.
The United Methodist Church is one of the cooperating churches running the Ecumenical Theological College and Church Training Center in Freetown for the training of leadership for the churches and community.
Bishop Thomas S. Bangura retired in 1992 and was succeeded by Bishop Joseph C. Humper, the third indigenous bishop.
The West African Methodist Church came into being in 1844 as a result of differences concerning the administrative procedures in The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone at the time, differences which sought to rid the church of the vestiges of color prejudices and the erroneous notions concerning the liability of peoples of African origin to participate fully in the affairs of the church. Formation of this independent church and its continued role and success in spreading the gospel among peoples of African decent in Sierra Leone was a significant milestone in the establishment of many African churches in the West African sub-region.
The church is administered by the general superintendent who is elected from among the most senior clergymen, and assistant general superintendent elected from among the lay elders and an elected executive.
An early attempt at reunification with The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone failed to materialize and the second schism took place in 1935. The West African Methodist Church has continued as an independent body. Nonetheless, an extremely cordial relationship exists between the two churches as they cooperate in many areas of Christian witness. The two churches use the same hymn book and liturgy. The doctrinal tenets of the West African Methodist Church are essentially those of Methodist churches worldwide.
The West African Methodist Church has by the grace of God, from entirely local resources, established 19 churches and 3 preaching places in Freetown, the capital, and surrounding rural areas. It also operates in the Moyamba District, 120 miles from Freetown, which is served by tow churches and two preaching places.
Membership of the church now stands at nearly 4,000 including some 1,200 juvenile members. The clerical strength is made up of 11 ministers in full connexion and six ministers on probation and trainees, and nearly 90 trained lay preachers who voluntarily support the clergy.
The church is proprietor of two secondary schools and six primary schools, one of the primary schools being in the Moyamba District where the church also supports development work in the farming community.
The Methodist Church in Singapore goes back to 1884 when, on James Thoburn’s initiative, the South India Conference appointed William F. Oldham as pioneer missionary to Singapore. Thoburn headed the party which sailed unheralded into Singapore harbor on 7 February 1885. Evangelistic meetings were followed by the first Quarterly Conference on 23 February.
Thereafter, the mission initiated a number of related activities: schools for boys and girls established by Oldham and Sohia Blackmore, with hostel accommodation; churches organized in all the main local dialects (Malay, Tamil, Hokkien, Cantonese and Foochow); and William Shellabear’s Mission Press and pioneer scripture translations and publishing work.
Following the initial thrust in Singapore, work spread to the towns and rubber estates in Peninsula Malaya. Town churches were twinned with schools which provided important support for the churches. Expansion and growth graduated the mission to the Malaysia Annual Conference in February 1902.
Equally significant were the planting of Methodism in the Philippines in 1900 and the settlement of Foochow Christians in Sarawak and in Sitiawan (Malaya) after the Boxer War. This was followed by Java, then Sumatra. A Tamil and Chinese evangelists were engaged from Ceylon and South China.
By the end of World War I, young people who had studied in the schools, attended the churches, Sunday Schools and Epworth League had matured. Local leadership was, however, expressed mainly in churches using the Chinese dialects, Malay and Tamil.
The Jubilee in 1935 reflected the development of human resources through the rapid growth of Methodist schools in number and quality, the success of the youth and women’s work, all forming a local talent pool.
With the collapse of Singapore following the outbreak of the Pacific War and the suspension of American missionary support, local Methodist leaders carried on under trying circumstances. A turning point had been reached, and profound change had begun to take place. When hostilities ended in 1945, a period of physical and psychological reconstruction began.
The founding of Trinity Theological College, the fruit of ecumenical prison fellowship and a significant cradle of local and regional church leadership, was an important milestone. The other was a new relationship in the U.S. Methodist Church with the constituting of the South East Asia Central Conference in 1950, and the American mission.
Led by maturing local clergy and lay leadership, the church has grown significantly.
In 1920, missionaries from the US-based Methodist Episcopal Church, South began their work in Czechoslovakia. They organized evangelization meetings, distributed Bibles, and provided emergency services to the people, who were still suffering from the consequences of the First World War. This work led to the founding of various congregations and to the birth of the UMC in Czechoslovakia. In the early years, the Church grew rapidly. Later, the young Church experienced very difficult years, at first in a financial sense, and then for political reasons. Yet in spite of persecution and oppression by the state, from restriction of activities to the arrest of pastors, rays of hope always managed to shine through.
At the end of 1989, the political changes in Eastern Europe suddenly offered many new opportunities for Christian service in a highly secularized society, and the UMC was still there, with renewed missionary zeal that soon led to the founding and growth of new congregations. For the most part, the new members were young people who were hearing the message of the Gospel for the first time, and who with their enthusiasm brought a strong new dynamic into the Church.
The political separation of the country in 1993 and subsequent founding of the Czech and Slovak Republics did not separate the Annual Conference. The UMC in these countries has undergone structural adaptations, but is still organized as an annual conference with two districts.
The growing congregations in the Slovak Republic are confronted with many social challenges. The fact that the country joined the EU in May 2004 has not changed this situation. But these needs are viewed as an opportunity to spread God’s love. Because of this, they often lead to new dedication to the Kingdom of God and to programs which also try to alleviate the material needs of the people. For example, one emphasis of the UMC in the Slovak Republic is the work with the Romani minority, who live in the eastern part of the country as poor and underprivileged outcasts, without hope of improving their condition. The Romani people receive not only clothing, furniture, and household utensils, but also attention, unconditional acceptance, and educational assistance as a basis for improving their own future. Other areas of emphasis include support for radio evangelization programs and inter-church cooperation, such as the theological program supported by several Christian Churches and groups at the university in Banska Bystrica.
Methodism came to South Africa with the British garrison in 1806, but the mission was launched by Barnabas Shaw who reached the Cape in 1816 and William Shaw (unrelated) who arrived in 1820 with the British settlers and rapidly established a chain of mission stations between the Cape Colony and Natal.
Methodism spread to all parts of Southern Africa and drew its membership from all sections of the community. It was a non-racial church from the outset, although it was deeply affected by prevailing social customs, and is still endeavoring to give true affect to this character.
Six missionary districts of the Wesleyan Methodist Church became an affiliated conference in 1883. An independent conference was constituted in 1927 and enlarged in 1832 to include the Transvaal District and the Primitive Methodist Mission.
Census figures reflect a Methodist community over 2.1 million, most of whom claim affiliation to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. According to a church census conducted in 2000, there are 683 ministers, 5,078 congregations and 2,888 preaching places.
The mission statement of the MCSA reads: “God calls us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for hearing and transformation.” The church’s vision statement is “A Christ-healed Africa for the healing of nations.”
An inventory of some of the ministries of the connexion include: pre-school, ministries to the homeless, ministries to informal settlements, hospice type ministries, ministries to prisons, HIV/AIDS ministries, poverty alleviation projects.
Through membership in the World Methodist Council, World Council of Churches, All Africa Council of Churches, South Africa Council of Churches and Christian Unity Commission we endeavour to develop relationships with other Christians churches in South Africa and throughout the world.
The Methodist Church in Spain was started in the northeast part of the country by missionaries from England in 1869. But before this date, at the beginning of the 19th century, there was some missionary work done by a British Methodist minister, William H. Rule, who from Gibraltar established some Protestant day schools and groups of worship in the south of Spain that had no continuity because of the presence and action of the Spanish Inquisition. But this attempt to establish a Protestant church in Spain was the first done in the country since the 16th century.
In 1868, a change in the government started a new period of tolerance and the first Protestant churches were established. The first Methodist church was organized in Barcelona on September 1, 1869. Afterwards others were created in Catalunya and the Balearic Islands. The life and witness of these churches has been limited by intolerance and lack of liberty that prevailed in Spain all through these years with just very few and short expectations. There was no religious freedom in the country until Franco’s death, when a new constitution (1978) was approved that established a clear separation between church and state and total freedom.
In 1955 the Methodist churches were integrated in the already existing Spanish Evangelical Church that was formed by congregations with Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Lutheran traditions. Since then the church has strong relationships with the Methodist Church in England and The United Methodist Church USA. The Spanish Evangelical Church was received as a member of the World Methodist Council in 1981.
Methodism came to Sri Lanka on June 29, 1814. The mission was led by Rev. Dr. Thomas Coke who died on his way to this country near Bombay. Five others, however, landed on our shores. Many other missionaries have come from Britain and Ireland and made a rich contribution to the life of the church. Missionary teachers and principals have left an indelible mark on the history of education in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Church became autonomous in 1964.
The oldest Methodist Church in Asia is in Colombo and it celebrated its 180th anniversary in 1995. The Methodist Church in Sri Lanka consists of 3 districts and 32 circuits. It has 75 active ministers, 54 evangelists and 20 lay workers in full time ministry. Three missionaries of our church serve in England, Germany and the West Indies. Nine missionaries from Germany, Korea, England and Holland work in the church. The total Methodist community in Sri Lanka is 28,000.
The ministers receive their theological education at an ecumenical theological college in Pilimatalawa. Two evangelistic training centers have been established for training evangelists in Tamil and Sinhala. The church manages two schools, Wesley College and Methodist College. The church has been actively involved in education since 1814. There were over 120 Methodist schools managed by the church when the government took over mission schools in Sri Lanka. It has now gone into pre-school education and has set up 150 pre-schools, nurseries and day care centers. More are for the poorer children and include nutrition programs.
The church runs 17 children’s homes for about 1,000 children, assisted by Kinder Nothilfe in Germany. With the country in a state of civil war the church has been challenged to care for the victims of violence. Churches in the combat zone have organized refugee camps, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, and counseling of those who have faced trauma of war.
The Church has training programs for electronic technicians, motor mechanics, mechanical engineering, pottery, sewing, agriculture, a center for training in the printing trade and training in its City Mission for carpentry, metal work, catering, and janitorial services. About 400 young people benefit from these projects.
Over 50 evangelists are trying to establish a Christian witness in frontier areas. Last year new work was begun in 30 village communities. The church is experimenting with new forms of worship, introducing creative, indigenous models of worship.
The peace and reconciliation committee of the church is involved in a peace education program to educate the youth to understand the need for multi-ethnic co-existence. Exchange programs for young people belonging to different ethnic communities are being organized as a contribution to peace education. It has tried to mediate between the conflicting parties in the war and has urged them to take steps towards a negotiated settlement to the ethnic crisis.
The first Wesleyan congregation in Switzerland was founded in Lausanne in 1840. The Methodist Episcopal Church began its work sixteen years later in Lausanne and Zurich. And finally, the Evangelical Brethren Church founded its first congregation in Berne in 1866. Thus today’s UMC in Switzerland was formed from three different Methodist movements.
In the early days, missionaries from Germany, Great Britain, and America worked to build the Church. Local preachers soon cared for a growing number of congregations. However, this period was a time not only of growth, but also of resistance and oppression. Any religious movement that belonged neither to the Catholic nor to the Reformed Protestant Church was treated as a sect, and proselytizing was viewed as «stealing members». Violence against preachers and lay missionaries was not uncommon.
But the spread of Methodism in Switzerland was not to be stopped, and soon Switzerland was itself the source of missionary work. Members of the Church, especially women, were sent out to nearly all continents to do good works, to teach people about God, and to help build new congregations. Today, eleven men and women work in the service of Connexio, the mission and service network of the UMC, in Argentina, in the Congo, in Algeria and in Croatia – in projects for development cooperation, emergency aid, missionary congregation building, and inter-church aid.
In Switzerland as elsewhere, the UMC’s field of activity includes much more than pure congregational work. The Church maintains close ties with various social and missionary institutions:
– Bethanien Charity in Zürich
– Bethesda Charity in Basel
– 8 homes for the elderly
– 1 group living facility for mothers and children
– 1 day nursery
– 1 home for the mentally handicapped
– 2 hotels
– 1 backpackers villa
– 5 retreats
In many places, the congregational efforts emphasize work with children and youth and the organization of worship services in a contemporary style. Music also plays an important role, just as in the early Methodist movement. In addition to numerous choirs and vocal groups, many congregations also have their own bands, brass choirs, or other instrumental ensembles.
The cooperation with other Churches — be it in the context of the Evangelical Alliance or in the ecumenical context — is an important priority of the UMC and is considered to be an active contribution towards a common Christian witness.
There are still a number of women’s groups and missionary societies. In the past 15 years, congregational partnership teams have been established. In all these groups, the participants not only discuss the issues of their own lives, but also follow the work of Methodist congregations in other places (Eastern Europe, Africa, South America, Asia), and make practical contributions.
On the other hand there are several groups and congregations made up by people from Latin America, Africa or Asia which meet in UMC buildings and which have an already longstanding or a rather new but growing relationship with the UMC.
And finally, there are missionary activities and serving ministries at many places (working with drug addicts and the socially disadvantaged; open youth work; lunch projects, support for asylum seekers, etc.). Many congregations are opening themselves to the non-members around them by initiating programs based on the needs of people not affiliated with any church.
Together with the UMC in France and the Methodist congregations in Northern Africa (Algeria/Tunisia), the UMC in Switzerland makes up the Annual Conference of Switzerland/France.