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 first Wesleyan missionaries came to France from Great Britain via the Channel Islands in 1791. About sixty years later, the still relatively small movement was consolidated to form the French Wesleyan Conference. This conference remained in existence until shortly before the Second World War. Then, sixteen congregations voted to join the French Reformed Church. Six congregations in the southeastern part of the country broke away because they were unwilling to take this step. During the following decades, they continued to exist, along with two more congregations, as autonomous “Eglises Evangéliques Méthodistes de France” (EMF), and numbered about 1,500 members and friends.
Today’s “Union de l’Eglise Evangélique Méthodiste en France” (UEEMF) was founded in 1868, when the Evangelical Brethren in Germany sent a German-speaking American missionary to Strasbourg, for the purpose of initiating a German-speaking congregation there. Other missionaries from Germany and Switzerland came to the surrounding cities with the similar intentions. From these efforts, the nine congregations of Alsace-Lorraine developed.
In southwestern France, the missionary work began in 1926 among Swiss immigrants who had settled in Agen after the First World War. Eventually, the congregation’s clientele changed, and the work was carried out in French, as was also the case in Alsace-Lorraine. In the 1980s, missionary work of the congregation in Agen led to new initiatives in Fleurance and Mont de Marsan.
Although there had always been Emails between the EMF and the UEEM, for a number of reasons, the two churches have tightened their links significantly in recent years. In 2002, following intensive talks, it was decided to provisionally incorporate the EMF into the UEEMF, and thus into the Annual Conference of France and Switzerland. This decision was made definite in 2005.
Today, important areas of emphasis in the Methodist congregations include working with children and young people, conversation groups and creative groups for women, and missionary work and evangelization, as well as literature. However, the congregations are also aware of their heritage of social service and take this mission seriously, and work to help people at the personal level.
Chinese, Korean, and Cambodian congregations, which all have the status of associated congregations and which display an astonishing missionary dedication, meet in the buildings of the Methodist congregations.
Points of Email between Church and society include several institutions with which the UEEMF is affiliated: the Bethesda charity three homes for the elderly in Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Munster; the retreat center in Landersen, which has been through difficult times, but now looks to the future with renewed confidence; a
home for the elderly in Valleraugue; and diverse Protestant bookstores (CEDIS).
Together with the four congregations in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the congregations in France form the “District francophone” of the Annual Conference Switzerland/France.
The work of Methodism in North Africa was started in 1908 by missionaries from the USA. Before Algeria became independent in 1962, there were no restrictions on church work in this country. Open evangelization was allowed. The Methodist Church owned church buildings, children’s homes and clinics. At that time, the Church in Northern Africa was organized as an annual conference, to which local pastors, lay preachers, and evangelists belonged. Then the country dissolved its ties to France. This was a historic juncture that had serious – and for many, painful – consequences. Many local Christians left the country, believing that there was no place for a Christian Church in an independent Algeria. Finally, eight years later, events followed which were to define the next period: half of the Methodist missionaries were deported, children’s homes and boarding schools were forced to close, and Church property was taken over by the state.
In 1972, the Methodist Church fused with most of the other Protestant denominations to form the Protestant Church of Algeria, and Methodist work in Northern Africa was reorganized as a district of the annual conference of Switzerland/France. This work also includes the cooperation of various churches in Tunis, Tunisia, with its emphasis on social services (delivering food, clothing and medicines), on assistance for immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and on the organization of ecumenical worship services and university Bible groups.
Today, the Christian Church is a tiny minority in Algeria, where Islam is now the state religion. Fairly recently, it was possible to run a congregation in an organized manner, in spite of state-ordered limitations (prohibition of public evangelization, prohibition of all activities not directly related to church work, prohibition of all services to Moslem children, youth and students). The political and religious developments of the past few years have not exactly made Methodist work any easier in this country.
However, there are worship services, Bible studies, weddings and baptisms. In Algiers and Oran, especially, these take place through ecumenical cooperation. More and more people are expressing their interest in the Christian faith. Through the social services supported by the UMC in Switzerland, a sewing school for deaf women in Constantine is run, which means that some young women are receiving a chance for a better future.
The training of local staff is a major priority of Church life today, because although leaders in the Methodist congregations in Algeria continue to maintain existing relations, they also hope to increase the level of local responsibility.
Structurally, the Protestant Church of Algeria is now constituted as a federation of Protestant congregations, in which Methodist personalities continue to carry out important leadership functions. However, this has no effect on the cooperation in personnel and financial matters between the Methodist congregations in Algeria and the Annual Conference in of Switzerland/France.