The Methodist Church (now United Methodist) planted its roots in Liberia in 1822, by black immigrants from the Americas. They came to Christianize and educate the indigenous Africans and enlist them in the cause of Christ on the Continent of Africa. They sought and received missionaries in 1833. The late Rev. Melvin B. Cox was the first missionary to Liberia. In 1854, the missionaries organized the Liberia Mission Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It remained a missionary conference until 1964, when by an action of the General Conference, autonomy was duly authorized and Central Conference status was achieved.
In December 1965, the first session of the Liberia Central Conference was held at Mount Scott United Methodist Church in Harper City, Maryland County, Liberia. At this time the Rev. Stephen Trowen Nagbe, Sr. was elected bishop, the first Liberian to be elected and consecrated in Liberia (our indigenous soil). The Rev. Dr. Bennie Dequincey Warner was the second Liberian to be elected as a bishop in 1973 following the death of Bishop Nagbe. Bishop Warner was elected at the third session of the Liberia Central Conference held at First United Methodist Church of Lower Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Liberia, in December 1980, the Rev. Dr. Arthur F. Kulah was elected the third Liberia bishop. Bishop Kulah was elected at Miller McAllister United Methodist Church in Ganta City, Nimba County, Liberia. The election of Bishop Kulah came about because of the April 12, 1980 coup d’etat in Liberia and the departure of Bishop Bennie D. Warner who was also Vice President of the Republic of Liberia.
The Liberia Central Conference was dissolved in 1984 for the formation of The West Africa Central Conference, bringing together the Liberia Annual Conference, Sierra Leone Annual Conference, and the Muri Provisional Annual Conference. The United Methodist Church, The West Africa Central Conference brings three countries together (Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone). The history of present day Liberia dates from 1816 when the American Colonization Society, a private United States organization, was given a charter by the United States Congress to send freed blacks to the West Coast of Africa. The first settlers landed at the site of present-day Monrovia in 1822. In 1838, the settlers united to form the Commonwealth of Liberia, and on July 26, 1847, Liberia was declared an independent country, the first republic of Africa.
The Liberian Civil War in 1989-1997 caused much death, destruction of property and suffering for the Liberian people. For this reason, the church started ministries in the areas of relief, repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation. There will be additional church ministries in the next few years.
On December 16, 2000, at the Fifth Quadriennium Session of the West Africa Central Conference, Methodist Church, held in Monrovia, at the First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Dr. John Ginka Innis was elected on the first ballot as the fourth indigenous bishop and subsequently consecrated on December 17, 2000, thereby succeeding the Rev. Dr. Arthur F. Kulah, who superintended the church for twenty (20) years. He was formally retired in 2000.
The Rev. Dr. John G. Innis intends to take off from where his predecessor ended. He has, however, placed emphasis on vigorous and holistic evangelism, dynamic spiritual growth, and sustainable economic empowerment.
The United Methodist Church in Liberia operates United Methodist schools, including a university, seven senior high schools, nine junior high schools, and twenty-one elementary schools. The church also provides subsidies for 80 other schools operated by local United Methodist congregations. The church operates a full hospital at Ganta and seven clinics. The United Methodist Church is in partnership with the Lutheran Church in
the Phebe Hospital Project in Bong County. There are agricultural training farms at Ganta, Gbarnga, Gbason-town, Whiteplans and Decoursey.
The church is a full member of the Liberia Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches. The current membership of the United Methodist Church in Liberia is approximately 150,000. There are 690 pastors assigned to 481 local churches in 19 districts. The church affects the lives of a wider community of approximately 2.5 million people.