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.