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.
For more information about the World Methodist Council and how your donations can help further our mission, please visit our donations page.