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 United Methodist Church in this country, called “Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche” in Germany, has various sources. Methodism here was started by Christoph Gottlieb Mueller, a German who had fled to England during the Napoleonic wars and was converted there. He returned to Germany in 1830 and began to preach in Wuerttemberg and the Southern part of the country.
In 1849 American Methodists sent Louis S. Jacoby, a German immigrant, who had become a minister in Illinois, to Germany. He began his work in Bremen and was soon joined by others from America. In the same year Methodism began work in eastern Germany. The work established by Jacoby and his associates became the Germany Mission Conference in 1856. German Methodism carried the work into Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the former Baltic States. There was union with the groups formed by Mueller and the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1897. In 1905 the United Brethren joined the Methodist Church.
Sixty-three years after that merger, in 1968, the German Methodist Church united with the German E.U B. Church (“Evangelische Gemeinschaft”), which had developed in a similar way as the Methodist Church. In 1850 Johann Conrad Link of the Evangelical Association returned from America to his homeland and started preaching in and near Stuttgart, Soon other American ministers followed to testify to the love of God among their former fellow countrymen. Step by step they spread their missionary work all over Germany, and preached in France, and Switzerland. In 1865 they founded a German Conference.
Due to the German division a Central Conference in East Germany (then German Democratic Republic) was formed in 1970. It set up its own institutions for theological training, publishing, social and diaconal work. The common membership in the UMC provided the framework to retain the unity in spirit and to establish partnership but to serve under different political and societal conditions. German reunification in 1990 allowed the union of the Central Conferences in October, 1992. In the Federal Republic of Germany there are three annual conferences (East, North, South).
The School of Theology is located in Reutlingen, Wuerttemberg, where students from Germany, Switzerland and other European countries are trained. The United Methodist Church in this country carries on quite extensive social work in hospitals, homes for senior citizens, aftercare institutions for drug and alcohol addicts. In addition there are training institutions for adult educational work and vacation centers for young people. A growing sector is the ministry for migrants and asylum seekers.
The United Methodist Church traces its origins to the Evangelical Revival of the 18th Century in which John and Charles Wesley were prominent leaders. Methodist societies were organized in North America in the 1762. As the movement grew, American Methodists petitioned John Wesley to send lay preacher missionaries to strengthen and extend their ministry.
One of Wesley’s missioners, Thomas Rankin, called together the American preachers for their first annual conference in 1773.
In December 1784 the Methodist Episcopal Church was created with Wesley’s blessing. Thomas Coke (1747-1814) and Francis Asbury (1745-1816) were named its superintendents. Asbury was an especially important itinerant leader in the earliest years. Within a few years geographical annual conferences were devised as the church continued to grow. Itinerant circuit riding preachers and committed laypeople contributed to an evangelical ministry in the Methodist Episcopal Church which resulted in its becoming a major force in American life.
While the Methodist Episcopal Church was in its infancy, two German-speaking churches were being established. In 1800 Philip William Otterbein (1726-1813) and Martin Boehm (1725-1812) organized the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Seven years later Jacob Albright (1759-1808) formed the Evangelical Association. Over the ensuing years both of these churches effectively ministered to German-speaking and English-speaking people. In 1946 the United Brethren and Evangelicals united to become the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Painful schisms over race, democratic ideals, slavery in the Methodist Episcopal Church resulted in the formation of new Methodist ecclesiastical bodies including the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1816), African Methodist Episcopal Zion (1796), Methodist Protestant (1830), and Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1845), and Colored (now Christian) Methodist Episcopal (1870) churches among others. In 1939 the Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and Methodist Protestant churches reunited to form The Methodist Church.
After several years of discussion and negotiation The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church united in April 1968 to constitute The United Methodist Church. Like its predecessors The United Methodist Church has an episcopal form of government and is organized into geographical annual conferences. The chief legislative body of the church is the General Conference, composed of approximately 1,000 delegates, which is scheduled to meet quadrennially. Church governance is prescribed in the denomination’s Book of Discipline which is revised by General Conference legislation. It also published The Book of Resolutions which includes statements on social issues and other matters. From its origins United Methodism and its predecessors have sought to combine evangelical faith with personal and social holiness. The denomination’s Council of Bishops and its fourteen official boards and agencies implement the church’s policies and programs.
The United Methodist Church has four doctrinal standards. Three of these are attributed to John Wesley: The Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament; his Standard Sermons; and the Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church. The fourth standard is the Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. For their theology, United Methodists also utilize a document titled, “Our Theological Task,” published in their Discipline which encourages the use of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience for their faith and life.
There are approximately 35,000 local churches in the United Methodist connection. Worship and liturgical practices in these churches vary from congregation to congregation. However, most congregations use The United Methodist Hymnal for worship and The United Methodist Book of Worship as a resource for worship. Two sacraments are central to the church’s life: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
United Methodism and its predecessors have traditionally supported the World Methodist Council and other ecumenical bodies such as the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and the World Council of Churches.
The United Methodist Church seeks to be faithful to God in its worship and witness.