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 first attempts to begin Methodist work in Peru were made by Rev. William Taylor (1877-1878), who tried to establish an autonomous mission church and schools, in the south of Peru where many immigrant workers from England and North America were contracted by the railway company.
The first attempt failed and was closed because of the Pacific war (Peru, Chile and Bolivia) and because many of the missionaries caught yellow fever and tuberculosis and some of them died.
After the war, mission work resumed, especially in the capital city of Lima and the most important seaport city of Callao. Rev. Francisco Penzotti, a colporteur of the American Bible Society, a Methodist minister of Argentinian-Italian background began to preach and to distribute Spanish-language Bibles to his neighbors in Callao. Because of this he was persecuted, imprisoned, and was in jail in Real Felipe from July 1890 to March 1891.
It was in this way the first Methodist Church of Callao was founded on July 10, 1889. It was the first evangelical Spanish-speaking church in Peru. The first Peruvian families who were a part of the “fellowship” were migrants from the rural areas of the country who were plumbers, backers, single mothers, widows—people who had left their roots and were alone. Marginalized by society, they found a warm welcome in the Methodist Church.
Rev. Thomas B. Wood arrived in 1891, and helped to consolidate the work of the church, founded two schools and helped in the struggle for civil rights (liberty of religion, right to civil marriage and against all forms of restriction of personal rights).
The first Peruvian ministers to be ordained were the Rev. Adolfo Vasquez, Jose Illescas and Ruperto Algorta.
The Methodist Church of Peru became autonomous on January 19, 1970. The church is composed of six districts with a over 5,500 members.
Large Methodist schools include: Colegio America del Callao, Colegio Maria Alvarado, Colegio Andino, Colegio America de la Victoria, Colegio Daniel Alcides Carrion, and an ecumenical center, Comunidad Biblico Teologica “Wenceslao Bahamonde,” trains church leaders and future ministers. In addition there are small local schools and kindergartens spread across the country.
Social work includes communal kitchens and feeding programs. Methodists in Peru try to find meaningful solutions to the needs and challenges that the circumstances of the country offer, acknowledging the Wesleyan theme that the “world is our parish.”
The United Methodist Church in the Philippines has three episcopal areas: Davao Episcopal Area, Baguio Episcopal Area and Manila Episcopal Area. The Davao Episcopal Area has six annual conferences: Mindanao, East Mindanao, Northwest Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and Mindoro. The Baguio Episcopal Area also has six conferences: Central Luzon, North Central Luzon, Northwest, Northeast, Northern and Pangasinan. The Manila Episcopal Area also has six annual conferences and one provisional conference: Philippines, Philippines East, Middle Philippines, West Middle, Bulacan, Dampango and Bicol Provisional. The Philippines Central Conference has three incumbent bishops individually assigned as resident bishop to each area.
The work is served by ordained elders, deacons, lay pastors, diaconal ministers and volunteer lay preachers. Women’s children’s and youth work is carried on in all levels: local parish, district and annual conference, with the help of deaconesses and pastors. Social welfare work is administered by five social centers and student services are managed by twelve student centers. Urban and rural community development, community-based comprehensive primary health care program, environmental are and protection program and agricultural development projects are mainly served by lay and clergy persons-in-mission. In response to rising issues of indigenous people’s rights, human rights, justice, peace and integrity of creation, active prophetic social involvement is carried on by the Board of Church and Society of the annual conferences.
Formation of church workers is served by three seminaries, seven Bible Schools, and one college for deaconesses. The general educational program includes two universities, three colleges, five high schools and a significant number of kindergarten and elementary schools. The educational program is administered and supervised by administrative heads, faculty and staff members who are national leaders. Missionaries assist national leaders in various ways.
The strength of the self-support programs of the church in the Philippines is its emphasis in Christian education, stewardship, mission and evangelism, resource development and social concerns. Well organized program agencies include church schools, daily vacation church schools, school for Christian youth development, lay institutes, United Methodist Youth Fellowship, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women and Clergy Spouses Association. Leadership in ecumenical activities is provided from the local church level as well as at national and international levels.
The Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas (Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines) was founded in 1909 and will soon celebrate its centennial anniversary of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, mostly to Filipinos in the Philippines and elsewhere in the globe. As a connectional Church, it has local congregations throughout the Philippine islands, in America, and in some parts of the world.
The Church was founded in the desire of Filipinos for freedom from alien control. When the Americans came to the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, they brought with them the more enlightened evangelical faith which was welcomed by Filipinos with great enthusiasm. After a decade of mission work under American missionaries, a group of Filipino preachers wanted to carry on evangelistic work in the Philippines under the leadership and aegis of Filipino evangelists. The Americans tried to dissuade the group, advising them that they were still much too young in the work to be undertaking such a bold and radical move.
The Filipino group, however, felt that the time was ripe. Led by the first-ordained Filipino Protestant minister, the Rev. Nicolas Zamora (who was a nephew of the immortal Gomez-Burgos-Zamora triumvirate of martyred priests executed by the Spaniards for patriotic leanings), this group of Filipino preachers seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church and founded the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines) on February 28, 1909 as an evangelical Church that is self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting.
Since the leadership of Bishop Zamora, ten more General Superintendents have steered the Church through many troubled waters. Even now as it faces the 21st century, the Church restates with even more firm commitment its main mission of spreading the Word of God in the Philippines and throughout the world, so that man will “know Christ and the power of His resurrection”, worshipping together and serving others in love.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) was formed on May 25, 1948 from an organic union of different Protestant denominations, mostly from those which came from the United States during the early part of the twentieth century. The traditions of the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterians, the Congregational, the Evangelical United Brethren, the Philippine Methodist, and several autonomous congregations from the UNIDA and IEMELIF (Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas) all contribute to UCCP’s unique identity.
The UCCP now has grown to over 2,500 local and worshipping congregations and outreaches, 20 church-related schools and universities, and 5 church-related hospitals/health centers throughout the Philippines. It has three mandated lay organizations, the National Christian Women’s Association, the National United Church Men, and the National Christian Youth Fellowship. The 1994 National Census has pegged the UCCP membership at close to a million members. Of the 65 million Filipinos, more than 10 percent form its constituency.
Under a new constitution and by-laws (1993) the church is governed by the General Assembly which meets every four years to charts its ministry and elect its National Council. It is at present grouped geographically into four jurisdictional areas, each headed by a jurisdictional bishop; the jurisdictional area is in turn grouped into a total now of 38 conferences, each headed by a conference minister. There are close to 3,000 church workers, classified as ordained, lay church workers, deaconesses/Bible women.
Ecumenical in nature, the UCCP is a member of local and international bodies such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Christian Conference of Asia, the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Christian Peace Conference, the World Methodist Council and recently, the United Evangelical Mission. It has also a number of international covenants with other churches such as the United Church of Christ in Canada, United Church of Christ in USA, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of USA, Suomen Ekumeenisen Kasuatkuksen, Yhdistys of Finland, Presbyterian Church of Aoteroa New Zealand, Dienste in Ubersee of Germany and the Uniting Church in Australia.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, as expressed in its Statement of Faith, is a growing and transforming organization of people whose creed is to live out God’s will for all of life and creation as epitomized by Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. In 1998 the Golden Jubilee and the 100 years of Protestant witness in the Philippines was celebrated.
Following the First World War, Methodist congregations were formed in various places in Poland thanks to the missionary and humanitarian efforts of the US-based “Methodist Episcopal Church, South” and in 1921 the Methodist Church in Poland was officially founded. It was run by Americans until the beginning of World War II. Then the local Methodists took over responsibility, and guided the Church through the following decades, which were anything but easy. Because of changes in the national borders in the course of WWII, the Methodist Church lost about one third of its congregations in regions now belonging to Lithuania, Byelorus, and Ukraine. At the same time, in some places in western Poland (former eastern Prussia) the congregational work was taken over by German Methodists. In 1945, the Methodist Church was officially recognized in Poland. This event was followed by the period of Communist rule, during which Church work was possible only against a strong “headwind” (e.g. various Methodist buildings were confiscated by the Polish government and have not been returned to this day; social institutions such as homes for children and the elderly were closed). In Masur during this period, some individual congregations of the Lutheran-Reformed “Unierte Kirche” joined the Methodists.
After 1989, the political changes presented many new possibilities for making an impact in society with Word and Deed. And thanks to the strong interest in missionary work in Poland and its eastern neighbors, many of these opportunities were realized. For example, considering its small size, the Methodist Church has a surprising presence on radio and TV, which frequently helps people who are searching for meaning to find their way to a congregation.
Today, the UMC in Poland also runs various language schools for English, a theological seminary in Klarysew (one of the official training schools in the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe) and a youth hostel in Stare Juchy. On the one hand, these institutions are points of Email between the UMC and its surroundings, and on the other, they are places where people are trained to serve society.
In many congregations the work with children, youth, and women is thriving, and today, social initiatives are manifest mainly in concrete, local projects, where for example needy people are offered meals. Against the backdrop of large-scale societal problems (unemployment and poverty) and in connection with the requirements associated with the return of seized properties in western Poland, the social efforts of the UMC will be intensified and the projects more closely coordinated. The project “A Glass of Water”, which is aimed at alcoholics and their families, is one step in this direction.
In Roman Catholic-dominated Poland, the UMC is recognized and appreciated as a Church, and in the past as in the present, Methodist personalities have often proved to be excellent bridge builders in interdenominational relations. One result of this activity is an agreement for cooperation in preaching and communion with the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church, as well as an agreement on mutual recognition of baptism between the six Churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council and the Roman Catholic Church.
The origin of the Methodist Church in Portugal arose from the witness of two English laymen, Thomas Chegwin in 1854 and James Cassels ten years later, who were responsible for initiating small groups for prayer and Bible study following the pattern established by John Wesley and his class system.
In 1868 Portugal’s first Methodist Church was built in Vila Nova de Gaia where the first baptisms and services of Holy Communion were celebrated. The growth of Methodism under the leadership of Cassels was clearly evident, and persistent appeals were made to the Methodist Missionary Society in London for a missionary to assist his work. The request was eventually granted and a young minister, Robert Hawkey Moreton, was sent in 1871.
Moreton was a prudent man who never received anyone into membership without a prolonged inquiry. Within a few years the Methodist Church was building the Mirante Methodist Church, its first place of worship in Porto, and launching its great educational crusade against a high rate of illiteracy by opening primary schools. Meanwhile the future spiritual leaders of the church were emerging, the most prominent of them being Rev. Dr. Alfredo Henriques da Silva who succeeded Moreton, who expanded the work of the church during the more favourable years of the first Republic.
Between 1920 and 1940 the Portuguese Evangelical Methodist Church experienced its most fruitful period of expansion, recruiting members from all social classes, increasing the number of its schools and confirming itself as one of the most dynamic and prestigious evangelical churches in the country.
During this era the Church produced various publications of a spiritual and intellectual quality; most outstanding was the monthly “Portugal Evangélico”, the oldest Portuguese evangelical publication.
The isolation created by the World War II, a lengthy dictatorship, the lack of continuity of leadership when Rev. Alfredo da Silva began to age and the shortage of preachers gave rise to a crisis in leadership, which the Synod sought to resolve by once more appealing for ministerial support. This resulted in the appointment of the Rev. S. G. Wood and in 1954 the Rev. Albert Aspey, who for 29 years assumed the leadership of the church. During the time new areas of work thrived, the number of ministers increased, the church became involved in the ecumenical movement and, although forced to close down its primary schools, redirected its social program to concentrate on other types of community service including projects in support of children and the aged.
In 1984 the church returned to leadership by a national when the Rev. Ireneu da Silva Cunha was elected as chairman. The following year the Synod, meeting in Aveiro, took the decision to proceed towards autonomy. With the approach of the 125th anniversary of Moreton’s arrival in Porto and following consultation with the Methodist Missionary Society, the 1994 Synod resolved to draw up the required statutes and regulations, and approached the Conference of the Methodist Church in Great Britain with a view to assuming full autonomy. This was granted in June 1996 by the Conference in Blackpool, and officially transferred October 26, 1996, in Porto. The Portuguese Methodist Church is now fully autonomous, a member of the Methodist European Council and of the World Methodist Council.
The work is centred in Porto and covers mainly the northern half of the country, in 14 local churches. The membership is around 1,000 in a church community of 2,000. There are eight Portuguese full-time ministers, one of them the first Portuguese woman pastor; one having a secular job and one retired. There are sixteen deacons and deaconesses to preach, two deaconesses to serve in areas of need in the life of the Church and two still called lay preachers. The women and the youth have their own organized departments.
Plans are underway for the building of a large community centre in Porto and for developing work in Lisbon, where there is a good number of Angolan Methodists who did integrate the Portuguese Church.
The church is committed to social action with solidarity centres to support aged people and children, one in Aveiro area, another one in the mountain village of Valdozende and another one in Braga city. A new solidarity project is being developed in Porto to support children and families in need. There is increased ecumenical cooperation with the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches through the Portuguese Council of Churches, which shares in several areas of ecumenical life.
The main aim of the Church is to share Jesus in words and actions blessed by God and guided through the Holy Spirit.
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.”
Methodism was introduced into China in 1847 by Judson Dwight Collins and Moses Clark White in Foochow with the purpose of preaching the gospel in China. Actually, the True God Church was established in Foochow in 1856, then in 1937 combined with the United Methodist Church. In 1947 the Methodist Church in the Republic of China celebrated its centennial. The Methodist group grew slowly but steadily, membership increased to 100,000 and the number of ministers was over 500. Educational, medical and social services were provided widely and had great achievement.
In 1949, the Methodist Church in the Republic of China moved to Taiwan with the government. On June 21, 1953, the Taipei Methodist Church was erected, then local churches and chapels with a baptized membership numbering over 2,500. Various types of educational, medical and social services are provided, including Tung-Hai University and Wesley’s Girls High School and several kindergartens. In 1972 the Methodist Church in the Republic of China became autonomous and the first bishop installed in 1986.
Evangelism came to Taiwan in 1624 when the Dutch occupied southern Taiwan. The first person to win souls in Taiwan for the Reformed Church of Holland was George Candidins. Christianity in Taiwan developed in a new direction following Taiwan’s retrocession to the Republic of China, particularly after the mainland fell to the communists in 1949. Churches of numerous de nominations flocked to Taiwan, and the number of Christians and clergy multiplied accordingly.
In 1996 Bishop Philip Tseng was installed. Local preachers and church leaders play active and vital roles in pastoral work and in the formulation of church policy. The church’s commitment to the future is evident in its response to the call for mission and broadening its services to the community. The Methodist Church in the Republic of China is open to the Lord’s calling to stand obediently with the majority and commit to God’s mission of building a just and peaceful society.
The Samoa Methodist Church was first established in 1828 by a Samoan, named Saivaaia followed by the first missionary in 1835. She became independent in 1964. Since then there has been an increase in the number of ordained ministers. The position of leadership is in the hands of the locals. The MCS developed many Pre-Schools, a Primary School, three Colleges and a Technical Institute as our mandate in developing programs in the areas of secular education, religious education and family life.
Piula Theological College continues to feed the church in providing ministers for the local and overseas parishes as well as to equip them for overseas missionary work.
Amid the challenge and the changes coming into our shore, the Samoa Methodist Church wishes to maintain her identity as Methodist in life and worship with open minds for change as we see fit.
The involvement of lay people is very much appreciated and their talents and gifts in putting more life into the discussion and decision making within the church. We do encourage them and pray that more men and women may willingly answer their calling and offer their services to God through his Church.
In the Conference of 2006, statistics showed that the Methodist Church of Samoa’s membership is 36,385, an increase of 1,263 from the previous five years, with an approximately 42,600 touched by the church. The number of lay preachers was 1,048 in 2001 and in 2006 1,048. The fluctuation in terms of the actual amount is owed to migration, retirement and death.
Migration has affected our number from time-to-time, so our figures are not stable. However, migration also speaks for one aspect of our members as being ‘people in mission.’ Our people in American Samoa, New Zealand, USA, Hawaii and Australia decided to establish their own parishes and have continued to connect them and their children to the Methodist Church in Samoa. There are 12 Synods abroad. There are 194 parishes; 92 are overseas. These parishes and Synods are represented annually to the General Conference of the Church held every July.
The Methodist Church of Samoa realizes that its task was to be a sending church, not only a receiving church. The MCS continues to send its ministers as missionaries in other countries. For this year, three Samoan Ministers are currently working for the Methodist Church in USA. We believe that the Methodist people around the world are all interconnected to their primary and common purpose for “winning souls for Christ.” Thus it is our prayer that Christ the Head lead of the Methodist Family will continue to inspire and guide us all.
The UMC’s work in the Vojvodina region (the northern part of what is now Serbia) was begun by German missionaries. German emigrants who had left their homeland and settled in this fertile region between the Danube and Theiss rivers to start new lives noticed them and invited them to come. Thus the first Methodist worship service was held in this region in 1898. Soon, the entire region was affected by a great awakening, and thriving new congregations were born (until 1904 exclusively among the German-speaking population, later among Hungarian speakers as well). But beginning in 1944, as a result of developments in the Second World War, the “Donauschwaben” or “Danube Swabians” were forced to leave the country or died in concentration camps. Since most pastors and members of the Methodist Church were members of this ethnic group, many churches were closed. It was a painful juncture in the Church’s history. One of the few positive aspects of this period is that the men and women who fled from Vojvodina took their faith with them to new countries, and thus founded new congregations.
However, the work of the Methodists in Serbia continued, albeit under more difficult conditions. The charitable and educational work was no longer allowed. Yet new congregations were founded among the Slovak, Hungarian, and Serbo-Croat speaking minorities. Just as in Macedonia, the “Bible women” played an important role in the growth of these congregations, and it is no coincidence that the second woman to be ordained a Deacon in the Central Conference of Central and Southern Europe (Paula Mojzes, 1957) lived in what was then Yugoslavia. Under the pressure of the political situation at the time, several congregations of the “Blue Cross” also joined the Methodist Church in the 1950s.
Waves of emigration later led to the loss of significant numbers of members. Even today, following the political unrest, wars, and waves of refugees of the past years, many people, especially the young, see no hope for the future in their own country. The economy is weak, unemployment is high, and many people subsist far below the poverty level. Even groceries, electricity, and medicines are beyond the means of many people.
So spreading the Gospel must also mean living the Gospel and offering the people practical help (firewood, medicine, food). The congregations of the UMC do both. In a country that is searching for its identity, they overcome boundaries by caring for ethnic minorities, as in the evangelizing and social services for Rom which have been initiated in several places.
Today, Macedonia and Serbia are two politically independent countries, but the UMC congregations still form one organizational unit (Annual Conference) with two districts. However, due to the unfavorable economic situation, they are able to cover only about 10% of their own budget, and the lack of pastors is also a heavy burden, although this aspect is improving. With great dedication and faith in God, the members of the UMC accept these challenges.
The Methodist Church Sierra Leone had its roots in the group of freed slaves who arrived in Sierra Leone in 1792. Some Wesleyan Methodists had been in Email with Dr. Coke, founder of missions, a younger contemporary of John Wesley, whilst they were in Nova Scotia.
This group started to organize themselves into a church but had to appeal for help from Dr. Coke in Britian. This resulted in sending the first Wesleyan Methodist missionary in 1811, the Rev. George Warren.
Work continued in Freetown, the capital town, and its environs, but also spread to the interior by the end of the century. This had continued until now and the concentration of the work is mainly around the capital, and the southern and eastern parts of the country.
The church is divided into three synods, each with several circuits. Membership of the church was 38,758 up to 1998. Since then, the continuing rebel war has made certain areas of the country completely inaccessible. We have, therefore, not been able to assemble more accurate statistics for our membership. The total numbers takes into consideration the people in Guinea. Total ministerial strength is 86 (including 16 probationers). The program of the church includes education, health and community development.
There are 70 primary schools and 12 secondary schools. Many of the pupils have been members of the church and have subsequently made worthwhile contributions to the life and work of the church. The number of people affected by the work of the Methodist Church is 2.1 million. The number of people benefited by the work of the Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is about one and a half million.
Nixon Memorial Hospital in Segbwema, about 230 miles outside Freetown, dealt with a total of about 65,000 patients in 1995, nearly 4,000 of which were admissions. The hospital also acts as a clinic centre for primary health care programme serving the Njaluahun Chiefdom. While we wait to reopen Nixon we have opened two new health centres in Freetown and Kenema.
The work in the East and South was seriously hampered due to a rebel war and escalation of violence since 1991. Too many have been killed. We are thankful to God that the violence is now generally ebbing.
Two regional offices have been opened to serve displaced people in Bo (Southern Region) and Kennema (Eastern Region).
We call on the world community to pray for us as we are challenged first to find peace and then to rebuild our broken communities, churches, manses and schools.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone started as United Brethren in Christ in 1855. It merged with the Evangelicals in 1946 and became the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 it merged with The Methodist Church becoming The United Methodist Church. During this time, all presiding bishops were from the USA.
In 1973 the church assumed autonomy with the first indigenous resident bishop, the late Dr. Benjamin A. Carew, followed in 1979 by Bishop Thomas S. Bangura. Membership includes 94,500, with 6,200 probationary members and 12,200 constituent members. Potential for growth in all the churches is greater now than ever. In spite of the ravages of war during the last ten years, there is great spiritual reawakening.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone is not only concerned with the spiritual needs of the people but also their physical and socio-economic needs. It operates 213 primary (elementary) and 20 secondary (high) schools. It runs 11 maternity and health centres throughout the country and one eye hospital with a full medical coordinator and two medical doctors. Three agricultural and community developments have been revitalized at Manjama (Bo District) Pa Lokko (Western District) and Yonibana (Northern District).
Service organizations for women, men, youth and young adults are active, and a strong children’s ministry. The women’s organization has three training centers: Betty Carew, Kono Musu and Urban Center.
The United Methodist Church is one of the cooperating churches running the Ecumenical Theological College and Church Training Center in Freetown for the training of leadership for the churches and community.
Bishop Thomas S. Bangura retired in 1992 and was succeeded by Bishop Joseph C. Humper, the third indigenous bishop.
The West African Methodist Church came into being in 1844 as a result of differences concerning the administrative procedures in The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone at the time, differences which sought to rid the church of the vestiges of color prejudices and the erroneous notions concerning the liability of peoples of African origin to participate fully in the affairs of the church. Formation of this independent church and its continued role and success in spreading the gospel among peoples of African decent in Sierra Leone was a significant milestone in the establishment of many African churches in the West African sub-region.
The church is administered by the general superintendent who is elected from among the most senior clergymen, and assistant general superintendent elected from among the lay elders and an elected executive.
An early attempt at reunification with The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone failed to materialize and the second schism took place in 1935. The West African Methodist Church has continued as an independent body. Nonetheless, an extremely cordial relationship exists between the two churches as they cooperate in many areas of Christian witness. The two churches use the same hymn book and liturgy. The doctrinal tenets of the West African Methodist Church are essentially those of Methodist churches worldwide.
The West African Methodist Church has by the grace of God, from entirely local resources, established 19 churches and 3 preaching places in Freetown, the capital, and surrounding rural areas. It also operates in the Moyamba District, 120 miles from Freetown, which is served by tow churches and two preaching places.
Membership of the church now stands at nearly 4,000 including some 1,200 juvenile members. The clerical strength is made up of 11 ministers in full connexion and six ministers on probation and trainees, and nearly 90 trained lay preachers who voluntarily support the clergy.
The church is proprietor of two secondary schools and six primary schools, one of the primary schools being in the Moyamba District where the church also supports development work in the farming community.
The Methodist Church in Singapore goes back to 1884 when, on James Thoburn’s initiative, the South India Conference appointed William F. Oldham as pioneer missionary to Singapore. Thoburn headed the party which sailed unheralded into Singapore harbor on 7 February 1885. Evangelistic meetings were followed by the first Quarterly Conference on 23 February.
Thereafter, the mission initiated a number of related activities: schools for boys and girls established by Oldham and Sohia Blackmore, with hostel accommodation; churches organized in all the main local dialects (Malay, Tamil, Hokkien, Cantonese and Foochow); and William Shellabear’s Mission Press and pioneer scripture translations and publishing work.
Following the initial thrust in Singapore, work spread to the towns and rubber estates in Peninsula Malaya. Town churches were twinned with schools which provided important support for the churches. Expansion and growth graduated the mission to the Malaysia Annual Conference in February 1902.
Equally significant were the planting of Methodism in the Philippines in 1900 and the settlement of Foochow Christians in Sarawak and in Sitiawan (Malaya) after the Boxer War. This was followed by Java, then Sumatra. A Tamil and Chinese evangelists were engaged from Ceylon and South China.
By the end of World War I, young people who had studied in the schools, attended the churches, Sunday Schools and Epworth League had matured. Local leadership was, however, expressed mainly in churches using the Chinese dialects, Malay and Tamil.
The Jubilee in 1935 reflected the development of human resources through the rapid growth of Methodist schools in number and quality, the success of the youth and women’s work, all forming a local talent pool.
With the collapse of Singapore following the outbreak of the Pacific War and the suspension of American missionary support, local Methodist leaders carried on under trying circumstances. A turning point had been reached, and profound change had begun to take place. When hostilities ended in 1945, a period of physical and psychological reconstruction began.
The founding of Trinity Theological College, the fruit of ecumenical prison fellowship and a significant cradle of local and regional church leadership, was an important milestone. The other was a new relationship in the U.S. Methodist Church with the constituting of the South East Asia Central Conference in 1950, and the American mission.
Led by maturing local clergy and lay leadership, the church has grown significantly.
In 1920, missionaries from the US-based Methodist Episcopal Church, South began their work in Czechoslovakia. They organized evangelization meetings, distributed Bibles, and provided emergency services to the people, who were still suffering from the consequences of the First World War. This work led to the founding of various congregations and to the birth of the UMC in Czechoslovakia. In the early years, the Church grew rapidly. Later, the young Church experienced very difficult years, at first in a financial sense, and then for political reasons. Yet in spite of persecution and oppression by the state, from restriction of activities to the arrest of pastors, rays of hope always managed to shine through.
At the end of 1989, the political changes in Eastern Europe suddenly offered many new opportunities for Christian service in a highly secularized society, and the UMC was still there, with renewed missionary zeal that soon led to the founding and growth of new congregations. For the most part, the new members were young people who were hearing the message of the Gospel for the first time, and who with their enthusiasm brought a strong new dynamic into the Church.
The political separation of the country in 1993 and subsequent founding of the Czech and Slovak Republics did not separate the Annual Conference. The UMC in these countries has undergone structural adaptations, but is still organized as an annual conference with two districts.
The growing congregations in the Slovak Republic are confronted with many social challenges. The fact that the country joined the EU in May 2004 has not changed this situation. But these needs are viewed as an opportunity to spread God’s love. Because of this, they often lead to new dedication to the Kingdom of God and to programs which also try to alleviate the material needs of the people. For example, one emphasis of the UMC in the Slovak Republic is the work with the Romani minority, who live in the eastern part of the country as poor and underprivileged outcasts, without hope of improving their condition. The Romani people receive not only clothing, furniture, and household utensils, but also attention, unconditional acceptance, and educational assistance as a basis for improving their own future. Other areas of emphasis include support for radio evangelization programs and inter-church cooperation, such as the theological program supported by several Christian Churches and groups at the university in Banska Bystrica.
Methodism came to South Africa with the British garrison in 1806, but the mission was launched by Barnabas Shaw who reached the Cape in 1816 and William Shaw (unrelated) who arrived in 1820 with the British settlers and rapidly established a chain of mission stations between the Cape Colony and Natal.
Methodism spread to all parts of Southern Africa and drew its membership from all sections of the community. It was a non-racial church from the outset, although it was deeply affected by prevailing social customs, and is still endeavoring to give true affect to this character.
Six missionary districts of the Wesleyan Methodist Church became an affiliated conference in 1883. An independent conference was constituted in 1927 and enlarged in 1832 to include the Transvaal District and the Primitive Methodist Mission.
Census figures reflect a Methodist community over 2.1 million, most of whom claim affiliation to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. According to a church census conducted in 2000, there are 683 ministers, 5,078 congregations and 2,888 preaching places.
The mission statement of the MCSA reads: “God calls us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for hearing and transformation.” The church’s vision statement is “A Christ-healed Africa for the healing of nations.”
An inventory of some of the ministries of the connexion include: pre-school, ministries to the homeless, ministries to informal settlements, hospice type ministries, ministries to prisons, HIV/AIDS ministries, poverty alleviation projects.
Through membership in the World Methodist Council, World Council of Churches, All Africa Council of Churches, South Africa Council of Churches and Christian Unity Commission we endeavour to develop relationships with other Christians churches in South Africa and throughout the world.
The Methodist Church in Spain was started in the northeast part of the country by missionaries from England in 1869. But before this date, at the beginning of the 19th century, there was some missionary work done by a British Methodist minister, William H. Rule, who from Gibraltar established some Protestant day schools and groups of worship in the south of Spain that had no continuity because of the presence and action of the Spanish Inquisition. But this attempt to establish a Protestant church in Spain was the first done in the country since the 16th century.
In 1868, a change in the government started a new period of tolerance and the first Protestant churches were established. The first Methodist church was organized in Barcelona on September 1, 1869. Afterwards others were created in Catalunya and the Balearic Islands. The life and witness of these churches has been limited by intolerance and lack of liberty that prevailed in Spain all through these years with just very few and short expectations. There was no religious freedom in the country until Franco’s death, when a new constitution (1978) was approved that established a clear separation between church and state and total freedom.
In 1955 the Methodist churches were integrated in the already existing Spanish Evangelical Church that was formed by congregations with Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Lutheran traditions. Since then the church has strong relationships with the Methodist Church in England and The United Methodist Church USA. The Spanish Evangelical Church was received as a member of the World Methodist Council in 1981.