Near the middle of the 19th century the Methodists in New York purchased an old ship and anchored it in the harbour as a mission for the thousands of Scandinavian immigrants and sailors who were coming to America. It was called the Bethel Ship and its pastor was Olaf Gustaf Hedström, a Swedish sailor, who had been converted in America.
In 1858 Christian Willerup, a Dane who had been converted on the Betel Ship, and was serving as superintendent in Norway, was released to become an evangelist in all the Scandinavian countries.
During a family visit to Copenhagen, Christian Willerup began public meetings. The first congregation was established in 1859, and in 1865 the church received official approval by the state, according to The Royal Constitution. It was first in 1911 that Methodism in Denmark had grown substantially enough to receive status as an Annual Conference. At the time there were 53 pastors, 27 congregations, 127 preaching stations and 3,634 members.
Now the number of members is declining. The main challenge that the UMC faces today is that of changing from a survival mode to a mission mode. Many churches are holding on to what they have rather than taking the risk of new ways of thinking and doing ministry. Another challenge is to strengthen youth work.
The Northern Europe Central Conference is devided into two Episcopal Areas: The Nordic and Baltic Episcopal area consisting of the United Methodist Churches in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, and the Eurasia Episcopal Area consisting of United Methodist Churches in Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). Information on each church is listed separately by country.