The African Methodist Episcopal Church grew out of the Free African Society, a mutual aid organization that Richard Allen founded in 1787. Allen, a Philadelphia-born slave who had purchased his freedom in Delaware, had experience as an itinerant Methodist preacher and associate of the famed Francis Asbury. An ugly racial incident at St. George Methodist Church in Philadelphia convinced Allen to start another branch of Methodism which affirmed in practice the equality of all human beings. Though he led his followers in building Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia in 1794, white Methodists tried to assert authority over its congregational affairs. In 1801, however, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania confirmed Bethel’s autonomy. In 1816 Allen convened black Methodists from other middle Atlantic communities to form the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. He was consecrated the first bishop of the church.
The A.M.E. Church rapidly spread during the antebellum period to every section of the United States and into Canada and Haiti. On the slave soil of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, the District of Columbia, and for a time South Carolina were numerous A.M.E. congregations. During the Civil War A.M.E. ministers recruited soldiers into the Union Army and served themselves as military chaplains. Even before the war ended A.M.E. missionaries traveled into the former Confederacy to draw freedmen into the denomination. As membership swelled to 400,000 by 1880, A.M.E. leaders, both clergy and lay, sat in Reconstruction legislatures, held seats in Congress, and served in scores of other political offices.
Formal entry into West Africa in 1891 and South Africa in 1896 made the denomination a significant black institution beyond the western hemisphere. Reunification in 1884 with the previously dissident British Methodist Episcopal Church brought the denomination back into Canada, and added the Maritime Provinces, Bermuda, and parts of South America. Missionaries also pushed the boundaries of the A.M.E. Church to embrace most areas of the Caribbean including significant attention to Cuba.
Further expansion in Africa culminated in the 1990s. At the 1996 General Conference Bishop McKinley Young of South Africa and Namibia successfully petitioned for recognition of the Angola Annual Conference. Similarly, Bishop Robert V. Webster of Central Africa gained acceptance for a fellowship of congregations in Uganda to become A.M.E.s.
Also by the turn of the 20th century nearly every southern and border state and some in the north and west contained within them A.M.E. supported schools. They ranged from the secondary to the college, university, and seminary levels. Wilberforce University in Ohio, founded in 1856 and A.M.E. sponsored since 1863, was the denomination’s most prominent educational institution. In the Caribbean and Africa the A.M.E. Church similarly started schools with Monrovia College and Industrial Institute in Liberia and Wilberforce Institute in South Africa as the best known.
The two world wars which inaugurated a massive movement of the blacks from the American South to northern and western cities spearheaded another period of A.M.E. development. Numerous churches in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and other areas developed a social gospel which redefined the thrust of A.M.E. ministry. Such southern and border state clergy as Joseph DeLaine in Clarendon County, South Carolina and Oliver Brown in Topeka, Kansas, moved to end legalized segregation with court suits they initiated in their respective locales. Culminating with the famous Brown case of 1854 A.M.E. leaders like their predecessors during the Civil War helped to spearhead important changes in American society.
Women have pressed the denomination continuously to recognize their spiritual gifts. Hence, Bishop Richard Allen authorized Jarena Lee to preach in 1817. Bishop Henry M. Turner ordained Sarah A. Hughes as an itinerant deacon in the North Carolina Annual Conference in 1885. Although his successor rescinded this
action, women continued to function as evangelists, even pastoring congregations starting in the late 19th century. The marathon efforts of Martha Jayne Keys and others caused the General Conference of 1960 to authorize the full ordination of women as itinerant elders. Bishop Vashti McKenzie, who leads the 18th Episcopal District, and lived in Lesotho, South Africa, was the first woman bishop elected in the A.M.E. Church. The Woman’s Missionary Society and the Lay Organization serve the church through notable voter education, HIV/AIDS programs, and employment programs and projects.
With more than 2.5 million members in 8,000 congregations on four continents, the A.M.E. Church plays a pivotal role in sustaining the Allen tradition in numerous nations in the Americas, Africa and Europe.
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is an independent denomination that grew out of the original Methodist Episcopal Church. The formal organization of the A.M.E. Zion church was recognized in 1796 in New York City. James Varick was the first Bishop. The A.M.E. Zion Church shares a common heritage with Christians of every age and nation according to the witness and teachings of the Apostles of Jesus Christ.
Zion Methodism grew out of the merciless enslavement of our African forebears. They were kidnapped from their native land, chained and shackled, shipped as beasts in deplorable conditions to a strange and distant land, having no family, no culture and no language. Yet, our fathers and mothers were confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ, in the cotton fields and every place of the humiliation and degradation revealing to them that He would always be with them as He had been with them in the past. When Jesus, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord had descended was preached at John Street Methodist Church, they united with that fellowship. However, bigotry and oppressively cruel barriers confronted them. The spirit of the Lord led them in the establishment of Zion Chapel (which later became the Mother Church of Zion Methodism) where the gospel of His redeeming grace could be purely preached and His vindicating and liberating influences could be experienced. Taking with them the doctrines, discipline, and polity of the Methodist Episcopal Church, they proceeded in the establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. They believed that God had called them out of their bondage and had chosen them to be His people and a channel of His redeeming love for all people.
We believe and understand today that, in the Divine economy, Zion Methodism is to make disciples of all persons throughout the earth, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captive, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
In 1996 we observed our Bicentennial Celebration marking 200 years of our existence. The celebration took place in New York City where we had our beginning. During this celebration, we were invited back to the John Street Methodist Church for a special service. It was indeed a moving moment. To God be the Glory!
Methodism reached the Caribbean in 1760. Almost a quarter of a century later, devout Methodists migrated from America to the Bahamas as “Loyalists”. By 1786, two fonner slaves, Joseph Paul and Anthony Wallace had gathered Methodists in New Providence for worship. They built a small wooden chapel/schoolroom and worshipped there before going on to Christchurch Anglican Church to receive Holy Communion.
By the late 1790’s Anthony Wallace, the administrator of the early Methodists in The Bahamas, requested Dr. Thomas Coke to appoint a Minister to The Bahamas. Referring to the records of the Methodist Missionary Society in England, Colbert Williams in his book “The Methodist Contribution to… The Bahamas” states: „in 1799 the British Methodist Conference meeting in Manchester decided to station William Turton, a white J3arbadian, in The Bahamas. He landed at Nassau on 22nd October 1800.” (Page 35)
William Turton continued the emphasis on education that Joseph Paul and Anthony Wallace had begun. Education was offered to a wide cross-section of the population. Methodism spread throughout the islands. From 1800 to 1968 The Methodist Church in The Bahamas was an overseas “District” of the British Methodist Church. By 1968 there were 36 Methodist churches in The Bahamas and 4 in the Turks and Caicos Islands Circuit.
In 1967 The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas was granted autonomy by the British Conference with Headquarters in Antigua. The Bahamas District voted not to join the MCCA in 1967 but did join in 1968. The Bahamas was then joined with the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In 1991 the Abaco Circuit brought a Resolution to the Synod seeking autonomy for the Bahamas/Turks and Caicos Islands District. Following the 1991 historic Synod, held in
Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas District of the Methodist Church began to walk the road to becoming an Autonomous Methodist Church.
The years 1991-1993 were years of dialogue and struggle as the Bahamas District worked with the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas to work out the details for the District to become autonomous. Despite our best efforts it became evident that the path toward Autonomy was headed for a separation between the two groups. The Majority of Methodists in The Bahamas and the majority of the Churches supported the move towards autonomy. 86% of the Methodist people in The Bahamas voted to join the new Conference. 14% voted not to join.
The Bahamas Parliament passed the Methodist Church Bill in July 1993 and the Uniting Conference was held at Ebenezer Methodist Church, Nassau, The Bahamas on 30th July, 1993. Thirty-two participating Methodist Churches signed the Deed of Union thus bringing into being The Methodist Church of The Bahamas.
The Foundation Conference of The Methodist Church of the Bahamas, to be known as (The Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church) was held on 17th – 18th November, 1993. The first officers of the new Conference were installed and consecrated at a special service on 18th November 1993 at Ebenezer Methodist Church. Rev. Dr. Cohn Archer, President, Mrs. Kenris L. Carey, Vice President; Dr. Reginald W Eldon, Secretary and Mr. Bruno Roberts, Treasurer.
Rev. Charles Sweeting was elected President to succeed Rev. Dr. Cohn Archer. He served until August 2002.
In May 2002, Mrs. Kenris Carey was elected as President. An important milestone for Methodism was reached when Mrs. Carey was elected as the first woman as well as the first lay person to serve as President.
The BCMC is now comprised of 35 member churches, Queens College, (the oldest Educational Institution in
The Bahamas), The Bilney Lane Children’s Home, The Nurse Naomi Christie Home for Older Persons, Camp Symonette, Methodist Habitat and the St. Michael’s Pre-School.
In July 2006, The Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church became a member of the World Methodist Council at its meeting in Seoul, Korea.
An emphasis on evangelism, spiritual development, education, social outreach and pastoral care continues to guide the BCMC as we meet the challenges of ministry in The Bahamas in the Twenty First Century.
The United Church of Canada came into being on 10 June 1925, bringing together the Congregational, Methodist and most Presbyterian (71 per cent) churches in Canada. In 1968, the Canada Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church joined the Church. The UCC has 573,424 members in over 3400 local congregations in Canada and Bermuda, with another million or more adherents.
Methodism was established in Canada as early as 1765 by Laurence Coughlan, one of Wesley’s preachers, who went from Ireland to Newfoundland. The various branches of Methodism in England and the United States in due course established themselves and by 1884 they were all united to form the Methodist Church of Canada. The United Church of Canada is the inheritor of the Wesleyan tradition in Canada and is a member of the World Methodist Council. The United Church is non-episcopal in character and is governed by a conciliar system.
The United Church of Canada has a history of involvement in justice issues both in Canada and overseas, much of this coming from its Methodist and Reformed traditions of caring for people who suffer economic and social injustice.
Canadian society is multicultural and multifaith. It is a culture in which the pervasive economic worldview impacts relationships, values, identities, and understanding of church. integration through free trade and continental security arrangements. Through advocacy and outreach the church ministers to those marginalized in this economy of exploitation, in addition to providing the traditional ministries and pastoral care. A growing area of work is with ethnic ministries and integration of churches brought to Canada by new immigrants; ministries in French are also an important focus. The church also has oversight of eleven theological schools, five United Church-related colleges or universities and four education centres. Commitment to global justice is expressed through work with overseas partners in some 38 countries with whom we partner in ministry, education, and development work, sharing people and resources in God’s mission, including acting and advocating in solidarity with those most affected by systemic injustice.
Continuing the traditions of the earlier denominations, the Church has spoken out strongly and consistently on controversial issues, including Aboriginal justice and the legacy of abuse in church-supported residential schools that housed Aboriginal students, systemic justice issues (race, gender, sexuality, economic inequalities, etc.), ecology, and the rights of refugees. In all such matters, educational resources are provided for church groups and official positions are made known to governmental or other agencies. Working in a framework of “whole world ecumenism” focused on the mending of the world, the church has also supported processes of interchurch and interfaith dialogue, and published important statements on Jewish-United Church and Muslim-United Church relations.
Through all these ministries, the United Church seeks to express the integral connection between Christian faith, care for creation, and commitment to social justice, remembering that “We are not alone; we live in God’s world.”
Nathaniel Gilbert, lawyer, planter, slave owner and Speaker of the Antigua House of Assembly, was reading a pamphlet “An Earnest Appeal of Men of Reason and Religion” during a period of convalescence in 1758. The author was John Wesley, the result, the start of Methodist witness in the Caribbean. The following year Gilbert made the voyage to England expressly to meet Mr. Wesley, taking with him two of his slaves. The slaves were baptized and he was converted. On his return to Antigua he called his slaves to prayer and thus became the first Methodist preacher in the Caribbean.
Sugar was king and chattel-slavery was at its zenith when the first congregation of slaves gathered to hear about another Master who was their Savior and in whose service was perfect freedom. Here were the first stirrings of emancipation–in the soul of the people through the gospel that was preached, however it was preached, and whoever was chosen by God for the task. Methodism was therefore totally committed to the anti-slavery movement. It quickly became the Church for and of the oppressed. In the aftermath of emancipation it spread rapidly through the Caribbean and the number of Methodists grew by leaps and bounds. By 1884 the first attempt at church autonomy was made but it failed due to a combination of adverse circumstances – economic depression, the lack of indigenous ministry, difficulties in travel and communication and a dearth of lay leadership.
The experiment failed but the vision did not, and in 1967, with trained indigenous ministry and competent dedicated lay leadership as well as rapid developments in the technology of travel and communication and greater economic stability, another attempt was made. An autonomous church governed by one annual conference and organized in eight districts was inaugurated to witness to and serve not less than 25 different national entities, and to work with 13 different currencies.
Since its inauguration in 1967 The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas has been attempting to respond creatively to the missionary challenges of the region. A conscious attempt is being made so that the Church becomes more self reliant and in a more advantageous position to communicate the Gospel in word and action.
The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was organized as the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America, December 16, 1870, in Jackson, Tennessee, by former slaves who had been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South during slavery but who, after their emancipation, realized that continued membership in the church of their former masters was neither desirable nor practical and requested their own separate and independent church “regularly established,” said Isaac Lane, “after our own ideas and notions.”
In accordance with disciplinary procedures of the times, and with careful attention to what was pointed to as the “desires of our colored members,” the 1860 and 1870 General Conference of the M.E. Church, South, provided the basic ecclesiastical, legal and practical means that enabled the colored members to, in the word of Lucius H. Holsey, establish our “own separate and distinct ecclesiasticism.” Several hundred black preachers were ordained deacons and elders; an official periodical, “The Christian Index,” began publication; five black annual conferences were established; delegates to a special General Conference empowered to set up a “separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction” were elected; the ordination of black bishops was authorized; and transfer to the new church of all properties that had been sued by slave congregations was sanctioned. On December 21, 1870, William H. Miles of the Kentucky Colored Conference and Richard H. Vanderhorst of the Georgia Colored Conference-the two black preachers elected by the delegates-were ordained bishops by Robert Paine, Senior Bishop of the M.E. Church, South. At the close of the Organizing General Conference Bishop Paine transferred Episcopal supervision to Bishop Miles with these words: “The time has come for us to resign into your hands the presidency of this body, and the Episcopal oversight of your people. And we now do it. Take this chair…. henceforth you are their guides and governs.
The CME Church rapidly emerged as one of the more influential churches in African American communities throughout the South. Beginning with approximately 78,000 members, competent leaders, several hundred congregations, and title to hundreds of pieces of church property, it had, by the turn of the century, expanded beyond the Mason-Dixon Line following black migrations to the North, Midwest and the Pacific Coast. After World War I, the CME Church was established wherever significant numbers of African Americans were located.
After World War II, as CMEs found themselves in more racially inclusive communities and the civil rights struggle intensified, the term “colored” took on the stigma of discrimination and Jim Crowism. Consequently, in 1954 the name was changed to the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
The CME Church now has 886,000 communicant members and 3,000 congregations throughout the United States, and conferences in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Haiti and Jamaica. It is divided into ten Episcopal districts, has 34 annual conferences and ten active bishops. It sponsors four colleges and a Theological Seminary.
The Church of the Nazarene emerged from the 19th century Wesleyan-holiness revival after three regional bodies in the North America united in 1908: the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America, stretching from Nova Scotia to Iowa; the Church of the Nazarene extending from the West Coast to Illinois; and the Holiness Church of Christ, reaching from Georgia to New Mexico. Two were products of earlier mergers. The united church’s original name – Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene-was shortened in 1919 after the term “Pentecostal” (a synonym, to the founders, of “holiness”) had acquired new meanings.
The Pentecostal Mission (U.S.) and the Pentecostal Church of Scotland united with the Nazarenes in 1915. Later accessions included the Layman’s Holiness Association (U.S.), the Gospel Workers of Canada, the Calvary Holiness Church (Great Britain), and an indigenous Nigerian body also bearing the name Church of the Nazarene.
The church’s doctrine is Wesleyan. Nazarene’s affirm the reality of original sin but emphasize Christ’s universal atonement and prevenient grace; justification by grace through faith; sanctification likewise by faith; entire sanctification as God’s gracious opportunity for believers; and the witness of the Spirit. The church practices the sacraments of baptism (by sprinkling, pouring or immersion) and the Lord’s Supper. Parents may request infant baptism, but believers’ baptism predominates. Members admitted by profession of faith agree to observe the general and special rules of the church, which include refraining from tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
Nazarene policy blends congregational, presbyterian and episcopal elements. From American Methodism the church derives its concepts of general and district superintendency, the quadrennial general meeting, and its book of discipline (called the Manual). Nazarene ordination practices also reflect Methodist roots: elders are elected to orders by peers and ordained by a general superintendent, who is joined by other elders in the laying on of hands. A congregational element is reflected, however, in the local church’s right to call its own pastor, while a presbyterian element appears in the district’s right to elect its own superintendent.
The Nazarene district assembly meets annually, electing its superintendent, receiving reports from churches, electing candidates to elder’s orders, and periodically electing equal numbers of lay and clergy delegates to General Assembly.
The General Assembly elects the general superintendents (who serve until the next General Assembly) and the members of various boards. It enacts legislation binding on churches and districts throughout the denomination.
It also elects the General Board, which meets annually and supervises, with the Board of General Superintendents, the church’s World Mission, USA/Canada Mission, Evangelism, and Sunday School agencies and the International Board of Education.
Internationalization shapes contemporary Nazarene life. The church exists in local, district, and general (international) levels, not at the national level except for certain legal purposes. The 12,598 Nazarene churches worldwide are grouped into 386 districts, one fourth of these in North America, where about half the church’s 1.4 million members live. The church is presently organized in 138 world areas. There are 13,203 ordained elders, 436 permanent deacons, 5,881 licensed ministers, and 747 missionaries.
Bible and liberal arts colleges are supported on every continent, and graduate schools of theology are located in Kansas City and Manila. The Nazarene Publishing House has operated in Kansas City since 1912 and is helping establish regional publishing houses in other world areas.
The Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica has been part of the United Methodist Church for many years. In 1973 under the permission of the General Conference, our church obtained its autonomous status, being actually affiliated to the United Methodist Church.
Our country has a population of 3,500,000 inhabitants. Catholicism is the official religion of the country, however, Protestantism has a very significant influence in our society. The church in Costa Rica has at this moment 90 local churches and 45 preaching points, and an average of 9,500 members, attending community of more or less 12,500 people.
During the last six years our emphasis has been the development and training of laypersons and pastors under a deep knowledge of the word of God and also awareness of our Wesleyan theology. This has produced a major compromise with Christ as personal Lord and Lord of the life. For the next years under the same dynamic of education we believe we can raise 2,000 or more local churches, around the whole country. If we want compromise with the communities the local churches are a very important vehicle to present the total and integral evangelism to the human being.
In accordance with the modern world, with all its positive and negative implications, with firmness we believe that the love of God for humanity, in Christ is the response for a restoration of life and a transformation of our society. For the authority Christ gives to the church through the Great Commission, is our agreement to increase evangelism, the love, God’s holy grace, is an action that continues, living in faith and hope for all human beings.
We believe that our lives must be consecrated totally in agreement with Christ and also our witness as disciples must be daily living, in this way we can affirm “the world is my parish.” We thank God for the Methodist movement and for the Methodist family around the world. The Methodist heritage we have is enough to share with our brothers and sisters in sorrow, in adversity and in the hope in Him.
We continue serving Christ as Lord, through our resources, through our gifts and abilities, through our local churches and institutions.
Our work of revival, of growing, of presence we support in continued obedience and consecration to Jesus Christ. Only in this way we can do the will of our Father, in a complete guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, USA, opened work in Cuba in 1883 through Cuban Methodists residing in Florida. The first church was organized in Havana that year with 194 members. The Spanish-American War interrupted this flourishing work, and it was not until 1898 that American missionaries were sent to Cuba, and Bishop Warren A. Candler, of the Florida Annual Conference personally visited the island. The Cuban Mission was organized in 1907; a Mission Conference in 1919; and the Cuba Annual Conference in 1923. At Methodist Unification in 1939, the Conference became a unit of the Southeastern Jurisdiction. In 1964 the General Conference passed an enabling act to allow the Cuban Methodist Church to become autonomous if it so chose. Autonomy was declared on February 2, 1968, and Rev. Armando Rodriguez elected as the First Cuban Bishop.
During the past few years a lot of new members have helped create almost 200 new congregations in the church, plus the 120 that were founded by the Cuban and American missionaries. The current membership is close to 13,000 and other 50,000 are attending church, although they are not yet members. More than 100 pastors work full time in preaching the Gospel. Methodists in Cuba hope to win “Cuba for Christ” through their evangelistic work. They are praying for opportunities to print Christian literature in Cuba and broadcast radio and television programs with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church has been trained to reach large numbers of people.
Since 1969 the church has been self-supporting. There is well organized work with women, youth, young adults, men, and activities in the area of Evangelism, Christian Education and leadership development. Twenty-three students are currently studying at the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary, to become pastors, and seven others are studying in Garrett Evangelical and Perkins Seminaries, in the United States.
Together with Methodists in the United States, the Caribbean and Central America the Methodist Church in Cuba participates in studies and projects of missionary work in countries in the region where there is no work of the Methodist Church. Recently, Bishop Armando Rodriguez (retired) and his wife Alida were appointed as Cuban missionaries to Honduras, the only Latin American country where there is no Methodist church.
In the 1800s and early 1900s British missionaries gave distinguished service in the Dominican Republic, although there was a period of legal restriction on non-Roman Catholic worship.
American Methodists came to the Dominican Republic in 1885, when a Dominican layman visiting Puerto Rico was converted. He returned home, witnessed to his neighbors, and a Methodist church was born. In 1920 Methodists, United Brethren, Presbyterians, and Moravians united to form the Board of Christian Work which has been called the oldest piece of cooperative denominational work in the world. They have an excellent bookstore, daily vacation Bible schools in the summer, nationwide evangelistic campaigns each year, and medical clinics which serve hundreds of persons weekly.
The Dominican Evangelical Church is self-governing with its own charter, constitution and doctrinal statement. Membership is reported to be growing rapidly.
The Free Methodist Church was organized in 1860 near Rochester, New York. Arising out of the conflict within the Methodist Episcopal Church over the Wesleyan interpretation of the doctrine of entire sanctification as well as issues such as slavery, free pews, secret societies, and freedom in worship, concerned ministers and laymen in eastern New York State encouraged Benjamin Titus Roberts to lead them in forming a new church.
The church is Wesleyan in doctrine and evangelical in spirit, evidenced by membership in the Christian Holiness Association and the National Association of Evangelicals.
Episcopal in nature, the church is organized into 12 general or provisional general conferences on 4 continents, each headed by a national bishop or bishops.
The Free Methodist Church sponsors both educational and benevolent institutions in North America and overseas. With headquarters at World Ministries Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, world membership stands at 395,000 with a total constituency of 650,000. The Free Methodist World Conference coordinates the ministries of the several jurisdictions.
History of Protestant work in Mexico has its roots in the 1810 independence movement led by dissident priests; introduction of Bibles in Spanish by 1826 and passage of the famous Civil Laws and Freedoms ratified in 1860 by the Benito Juarez government also played important roles in preparing ground for Protestantism.
All early Protestant missionaries founded their work on small groups meeting together to study the Bible. Out of such groups came some of the first pastors. For example, Alejo Hernandez was born into a wealthy family; his parents dedicated him to the priesthood at birth; seminary studies plus injustices involving the church caused him to turn this back on Christianity. He enlisted in the army to fight the French who were defending the throne of Mexico for Maximillian. Taken prisoner, Hernandez became convinced he needed to know more about the Bible. Later, in Brownsville, Texas, in search of a Bible and help to understand it, a recorded testimony tells how he felt himself moved in a way never before experienced. “I left weeping with holy joy.” With Bible in hand he returned to Mexico to share his new faith, but was turned away by family and church and forced to flee to Texas. In Corpus Christi a Methodist pastor invited him to form a class of Mexicans residing there; soon he was ordained deacon at the West Texas Conference in 1871 and assigned work in Nuevo Laredo. This was the first organized thrust into Mexico by Methodists; not the denomination but one Annual Conference.
Bishop John Keener, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, followed and purchased a “place for public worship” in February 1873. The Methodist Episcopal Church began work with a decision by the Council of Bishops in November 1872 to send Dr. William Butler who had previously served 17 years in India. Prior to Dr. Butler’s arrival, Bishop Gilbert Haven was sent to explore possibilities for work in December 1872. Returning to the USA in March 1873, he left four established congregations, preliminary work for several others and ground work for the purchase of the Gante Methodist Church in Mexico City.
On July 8, 1930, Methodism in Mexico became united and thus the Methodist Church in Mexico (Iglesia Metodista de Mexico) was born as an autonomous church. Its bishops are elected every four years. At present this church has six episcopal areas that cover 28 of the 30 states of the nation and the federal district. It has 150,000 members, 400 churches, and an estimated total Methodist community of 300,000.
It has a university, two theological seminaries, 150 centers of Theological Studies on Extension, 12 schools from kindergarten to high school, four social centers, two hospitals, two orphanages, two homes for the elderly, two clinics and one girls’ hostel.
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.
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.”
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.
The Wesleyan Church (TWC) was formed through the uniting of The Wesleyan Methodist Church of America (1843) and The Pilgrim Holiness Church of America (1897) in 1968. The Wesleyan Methodist Church came into existence during the slavery abolitionist movement of the 19th century while the Pilgrim Holiness Church had its origins in the revivalism of the same period.
TWC World Headquarters offices are located in Fishers, IN (The Greater Indianapolis area). One general superintendent, elected quadrennially, provides spiritual and administrative leadership for the denomination. Four executive directors and the chief financial officer assist the general superintendent in the leadership of the various ministries of the Church.
The Wesleyan Church emphasizes scriptural truth concerning the new birth, the sanctification of the believer, the personal return of Christ, and church planting and global evangelism. At the same time the Church speaks to the social, moral, and political issues through a Denominational Task Force on Public Morals and Social Concerns. It joins with World Hope International in providing compassionate ministry around the world.
The Wesleyan Church exists in 100 90 nations of the world. The development of national Wesleyan Churches into fully responsible church bodies is encouraged. All national and regional churches maintain relationship with each other through an International Board and Conference. Two national churches have risen to the level of general conference: The Wesleyan Church of the Philippines and The Wesleyan Church of the Caribbean.
Five college and/or universities are owned and operated by the Church in North America and many Bible colleges and ministerial institutes as well as hospitals and clinics in other countries. The Church operates a publishing house which publishes prints and distributes books, literature, and Sunday school curriculum to many denominations in both English and Spanish.
There are over 5000 churches and/or missions in the world with a baptized membership of over 370,000 and a constituency of over 500,000. The Immanuel General Mission of Japan and Yeon Hap Korean Methodist Church of Korea are affiliate member denominations.
Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Ind., and a seminary foundation, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY, provide for the ministerial graduate education of ministers along with five other denominationally endorsed seminaries.
The Wesleyan Church is a member of the World Methodist Council, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the American Bible Society.