Free Methodist Church
Overview
 
The Free Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

 within the holiness movement
Holiness movement
The holiness movement refers to a set of beliefs and practices emerging from the Methodist Christian church in the mid 19th century. The movement is distinguished by its emphasis on John Wesley's doctrine of "Christian perfection" - the belief that it is possible to live free of voluntary sin - and...

. It is evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 in nature and has its roots in the Arminian-Wesleyan
Wesleyanism
Wesleyanism or Wesleyan theology refers, respectively, to either the eponymous movement of Protestant Christians who have historically sought to follow the methods or theology of the eighteenth-century evangelical reformers, John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley, or to the likewise eponymous...

 tradition.

The Free Methodist Church has 74,000 members in the United States and 850,000 members worldwide in 82 nations. Light & Life magazine is the official publication. The Free Methodist Church World Ministries Center is in Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

.
The Free Methodist Church was organized at Pekin, New York
Pekin, New York
Pekin, New York is an unincorporated hamlet in the towns of Cambria and Lewiston in Niagara County, New York, USA. It was a stop in the Underground Railroad-References:...

, in 1860.
Encyclopedia
The Free Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

 within the holiness movement
Holiness movement
The holiness movement refers to a set of beliefs and practices emerging from the Methodist Christian church in the mid 19th century. The movement is distinguished by its emphasis on John Wesley's doctrine of "Christian perfection" - the belief that it is possible to live free of voluntary sin - and...

. It is evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 in nature and has its roots in the Arminian-Wesleyan
Wesleyanism
Wesleyanism or Wesleyan theology refers, respectively, to either the eponymous movement of Protestant Christians who have historically sought to follow the methods or theology of the eighteenth-century evangelical reformers, John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley, or to the likewise eponymous...

 tradition.

The Free Methodist Church has 74,000 members in the United States and 850,000 members worldwide in 82 nations. Light & Life magazine is the official publication. The Free Methodist Church World Ministries Center is in Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

.

History

The Free Methodist Church was organized at Pekin, New York
Pekin, New York
Pekin, New York is an unincorporated hamlet in the towns of Cambria and Lewiston in Niagara County, New York, USA. It was a stop in the Underground Railroad-References:...

, in 1860. The founders had been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Methodist Episcopal Church
The Methodist Episcopal Church, sometimes referred to as the M.E. Church, was a development of the first expression of Methodism in the United States. It officially began at the Baltimore Christmas Conference in 1784, with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as the first bishops. Through a series of...

 but were excluded from its membership for too earnestly advocating the doctrines and usages of historic Methodism. Under the leadership of Rev. Benjamin Titus (B. T.) Roberts
B. T. Roberts
Benjamin Titus Roberts , first trained as an attorney, then entered the ministry in the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York State. His ministerial studies were done at Wesleyan University in Connecticut...

, a graduate of Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...

 and an able and eloquent preacher, the movement spread rapidly. Societies were organized, churches built and the work established.

At the 1910 session of the General Conference of the Methodist Church at Rochester, New York, a full acknowledgement was made of the wrong done to Roberts fifty years before, and the credentials unjustly taken from him were restored in a public meeting to his son, Rev. Benson Roberts.

Before the founding of the church, Roberts began publication of a monthly journal, The Earnest Christian. In 1868, The Free Methodist (now Light and Life) was begun. A publishing house was established in 1886 to produce books, periodicals and Sunday school curriculum and literature.

The name "Methodist" was retained for the newly organized church because the founders felt that their misfortunes (expulsion from the Methodist Episcopal Church) had come to them because of their adherence to doctrines and standards of Methodism. The word "Free" was suggested and adopted because the new church was to be an anti-slavery church (slavery was an issue in those days), because pew
Pew
A pew is a long bench seat or enclosed box used for seating members of a congregation or choir in a church, or sometimes in a courtroom.-Overview:Churches were not commonly furnished with permanent pews before the Protestant Reformation...

s in the churches were to be free to all rather than sold or rented (as was common), and because the new church hoped for the freedom of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 in the services rather than a stifling formality. However, according to World Book Encyclopedia, the third principle was "freedom" from secret and oathbound societies (in particular the Freemasons).

Recent history

Free Methodist headquarters were located in Winona Lake, Indiana
Winona Lake, Indiana
Winona Lake is a town in Wayne Township, Kosciusko County, Indiana, United States. The population was 4,908 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Winona Lake is located at...

, until 1990 when the denomination moved its headquarters to Indianapolis. The church has about 77,000 members in the United States and an average attendance of 107,000 at its Sunday services. Worldwide its membership is over 800,000 with large segments of membership in the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and Rwanda.

Beliefs and practices

In doctrine, Free Methodists’ beliefs are the standard beliefs of evangelical, Arminian Protestantism, with distinctive emphasis on the teaching of entire sanctification as held by John Wesley
John Wesley
John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield...

, to whom the Free Methodist Church traces its origins.

Many question the difference between the United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

 and the Free Methodist Church. Both denominations share a common heritage linked to the Methodist revival in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 during the 18th century. There is very little difference in doctrine. There are more differences in practice and polity.

The United Methodist Church has taken a leading role in ecumenical, inter-denominational relations and is known for having a strong commitment to social and political activism. It is usually considered, therefore, to be liberal whereas the Free Methodist Church is usually thought of as conservative. As concerns worship style, the Free Methodist Church is less ceremonial than the United Methodist Church, is less likely to follow even a modified liturgical format during worship, and its clergy typically do not wear vestments of any sort during worship.

From its beginning the Free Methodist Church struggled with the issue of the ordination of women
Ordination of women
Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

. The first general superintendent, B.T. Roberts, was in favor of ordaining women, but never saw it take place in his lifetime. Out of his own conviction he wrote Ordaining Women: Biblical and Historical Insights. The impact of his writings eventually prevailed in the church. The Free Methodist Church affirmed the ordination of women in 1911. As of June 2008, out of 2,011 ordained clergy, 216 were women (11%). Twenty-six percent of all ministerial candidates are women.

Free Methodists recognize and license unordained persons for particular ministries. They mandate lay representation in numbers equal to clergy in the councils of the church.

Traditionally, Free Methodists have enjoyed A cappella hymns during worship. While some fundamentalists still become nostalgic regarding this issue, the trend seems to be moving toward a more modern approach to music. Although the music is evolving, attitudes toward dancing are still negative.

Organization

The Free Methodist Church's highest governing earthly body is the World Conference, which is composed of representatives, both lay and clergy, from all countries with a Free Methodist General Conference. As the church in each country develops, its status progresses from Mission District to Annual Conference to General Conference. There are currently 13 General Conferences in the world, which are linked together through the articles of religion and common constitution of the first two chapters of the Book of Discipline and the World Conference.

World missions

International Child Care Ministries (ICCM), a child sponsorship initiative serves more than 21,000 children in 29 countries around the world. Through education, meals and medical care, children in need are given an opportunity for a better life. Each sponsored child is connected to a Free Methodist congregation or ministry at a local level.

Serving, Encouraging, Equipping, Discipling (SEED), a micro-enterprise and livelihood ministry of Free Methodist World Missions, facilitates self-sustaining businesses, training in business skills and Christian discipleship. Focused on economically vulnerable members of the Free Methodist world family, it provides an international market for products produced by Free Methodist artisans.

Volunteers in Service Abroad (VISA) connects volunteers from the Free Methodist Church in the U.S. and U.K. with Free Methodist World Missions for hands-on ministry internationally.
The church currently has ministry in 82 countries around the world. These are:
AFRICAASIAEUROPELATIN AMERICAMIDDLE EASTNORTH AMERICA
Angola Australia Belgium Antigua Egypt Canada
Free Methodist Church in Canada
The Free Methodist Church is a denomination of Methodism, which is a branch of Protestantism. It was founded in 1860 in New York by a group, led by B. T. Roberts, who was defrocked in the Methodist Episcopal Church for criticisms of the spiritual laxness of the church hierarchy...

Benin Cambodia Bulgaria Argentina Iraq United States
Botswana Hong Kong France Bahamas Jordan
Burundi India Greece Bolivia
Cameroon Japan Hungary Brazil
Democratic Republic of Congo Malaysia Italy Chile
Ethiopia Myanmar Portugal Colombia
Gabon Nepal Romania Costa Rica
Ghana Philippines Spain Dominican Republic
Kenya South Korea Ukraine Ecuador
Liberia Sri Lanka United Kingdom El Salvador
Malawi Taiwan French Guiana
Mozambique Thailand Guatemala
Nigeria Haiti
Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) Honduras
Rwanda Mexico
South Africa Nicaragua
Swaziland Panama
Tanzania Paraguay
Togo Peru
Uganda Puerto Rico
Zambia Uruguay
Zimbabwe Venezuela

Higher education

B.T. Roberts began what is now Roberts Wesleyan College in 1866. Spring Arbor College followed in 1873, Seattle Pacific University in 1891 and Greenville College in 1892. Central College began in 1914, a continuation of Orleans Seminary begun in 1884. Azusa Pacific University was formed by a merger with Los Angeles Pacific College and other small denominational colleges.

The denomination currently maintains a relationship with the following educational institutions:
  • Central Christian College
    Central Christian College
    Central Christian College of Kansas , an evangelical Christian college embracing the Wesleyan tradition, is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. While accepting and supporting the doctrines of the Free Methodist Church, Central opens its door and solicits students, regardless of handicap,...

    , McPherson, KS
  • Greenville College
    Greenville College
    Greenville College is located in Greenville, Illinois, a small Illinois city, located 45 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri on Interstate 70...

    , Greenville, IL
  • Roberts Wesleyan College
    Roberts Wesleyan College
    Roberts Wesleyan College is a Christian liberal arts college located in North Chili, New York. It is the first educational institution established for Free Methodists in North America...

    , Rochester, NY
  • Spring Arbor University
    Spring Arbor University
    Spring Arbor University is a Christian institution of higher education located in Spring Arbor, Michigan, in the United States. SAU is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church...

    , Spring Arbor, MI
  • Seattle Pacific University
    Seattle Pacific University
    Seattle Pacific University is a Christian university of the liberal arts, sciences and professions, located on the north slope of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, Washington, USA. It was founded in 1891 by the Oregon and Washington Conference of the Free Methodist Church as the Seattle Seminary...

    , Seattle, WA
  • Azusa Pacific University
    Azusa Pacific University
    Azusa Pacific University is a private, inter-denominational, evangelical Christian university located near Los Angeles in suburban Azusa, California. It was founded in 1899, with classes opening on March 3, 1900 in Whittier, California. It began offering degrees in 1939...

    , Azusa, CA


In addition, the Free Methodist Church is one of several denominations supporting Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University is a private, inter-denominational, evangelical Christian university located near Los Angeles in suburban Azusa, California. It was founded in 1899, with classes opening on March 3, 1900 in Whittier, California. It began offering degrees in 1939...

(Azusa, CA). Wessington Springs College
Wessington Springs College
Wessington Springs College was an institution of higher learning located in Wessington Springs, Jerauld County, South Dakota. The college, affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, was founded in 1887 as "Wessington Springs Seminary." It was renamed "Wessington Springs Junior College" in 1918,...

 is a former, now closed institution which was located in South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

. Internationally, there is Osaka Christian College
Osaka Christian College
is a private junior college in Osaka, Osaka, Japan, established in 1952. It's primary focus has been training young women for teaching careers, and it has an exchange program with Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York. It is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church and has a related...

 of the Japanese Free Methodist Church, Hope Africa University, a recently founded school in Bujumbura, Burundi, and the Faculdade Teológica Metodista Livre, São Paulo, Brazil.

Through the John Wesley Seminary Foundation (JWSF) graduate students who are preparing for full time ministry in the Free Methodist Church are provided a grant or loan at the following affiliated schools:
  • Asbury Theological Seminary
    Asbury Theological Seminary
    Asbury Theological Seminary is a multi-denominational, graduate institution that offers a variety of master degree and postgraduate degree programs through the schools of Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation, Theology and Formation, Practical Theology, World Missions and Evangelism, and...

     – Wilmore, KY and Orlando, FL campuses
  • Azusa Pacific University
    Azusa Pacific University
    Azusa Pacific University is a private, inter-denominational, evangelical Christian university located near Los Angeles in suburban Azusa, California. It was founded in 1899, with classes opening on March 3, 1900 in Whittier, California. It began offering degrees in 1939...

     Graduate School of Theology, Azusa, CA
  • George Fox Evangelical Seminary
    George Fox University
    George Fox University is a Christian university of the liberal arts and sciences, and professional studies located in Newberg, Oregon, United States. Founded as a school for Quakers in 1885, the private school has more than 3,400 students combined between its main campus in Newberg and its centers...

    , Portland, OR
  • Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, NY
  • Wesley Biblical Seminary
    Wesley Biblical Seminary
    Wesley Biblical Seminary is a multi-denominational, graduate school of theology within the evangelical, Wesleyan-Arminian tradition. The seminary, founded in 1974 and located in Jackson, Mississippi, USA, serves men and women who come from thirty denominations from all across the United States and...

    , Jackson, MS

Publishing

Like John Wesley before him, B.T. Roberts recognized the Christian’s responsibility for publishing.

Before the founding of the church in 1860, B.T. Roberts began publication of a monthly journal, The Earnest Christian. In 1868 The Free Methodist (now Light & Life magazine) began. A publishing house was established in 1886 to produce books, periodicals and Sunday school curriculum and literature.

Beginnings

Early leaders, T. B. Arnold and B. T. Roberts privately financed and produced several publications.

The official publishing institution was established by the church at the 1886 General Conference. The church purchased the publishing business built by Rev. T. B. Arnold for $8,000. Arnold was named first publisher and B. T. Roberts was elected editor of The Free Methodist. The Free Methodist Publishing House is recognized under its trade name Light and Life Press.

Growth and development

The Free Methodist Publishing House operated at three locations in Chicago, Illinois. In February 1935, it moved along with Free Methodist Headquarters to Winona Lake, Indiana.

During its history, the Free Methodist Publishing House built up a plant and accumulated property worth several hundred thousand dollars. It also contributed thousands of dollars out of its profits to other activities of the church.

Over the years, as the ministry of the Free Methodist Church expanded, various departments of the general church gradually moved into Free Methodist Publishing House accommodations. This was provided at vast cost and without the investment of any capital by the general church.

In 1960, the Free Methodist Publishing House board issued a deed in favor of the general church, whereby the church became the owner of the old property, plus nearly eight acres of land. For this the general church paid nothing, but agreed to make payments of $5,000 per year over a ten-year period to the Free Methodist Publishing House.

Ministry

Arnold’s Commentary was published from 1894-1980. In the late 1950s and early 60s the church pioneered fully graded church school materials. In 1960 the Aldersgate Biblical Series was developed as the only inductive curriculum of its time.

A fully equipped printing area consisting of letterpresses, offset press, cutters, folders, bindery, linotypes etc. contributed toward making the church independent of commercial printers for the production for its printing needs at that time.

Acting on the recommendation of its executive committee, the board voted in 1988 to phase out printing operations. This decision and the 1989 General Conference decision to move the Press and Headquarters from Winona Lake to Indianapolis in 1990 shifted the focus of the Press. Where formerly, the Press produced and published Sunday school curriculum, this venture is now carried on in cooperation with other holiness denominations.

Beginning in 2008, the Wesleyan Publishing House, publishing arm of the Wesleyan Church, began serving the distribution and customer service needs of Light and Life Press.

Mission statement

Light and Life Press, the official publishing aim of the Free Methodist Church, is a not-for- profit corporation that exists to serve in partnership with its parent body, the Free Methodist Church. Its primary purpose is to publish and distribute materials which enable the church to fulfill its stated mission. Light and Life Press also offers its services and materials to all who seek to make Christ known.

Publications

Free Methodist Communications is the publishing division of the Free Methodist Church. Publications may also be printed or distributed under the name Light & Life Communications.
  • Light and Life is the official magazine
    Magazine
    Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

    of the Free Methodist Church in the United States and is also available online.
  • Free Methodist World Mission People is a quarterly magazine about world missions offered free of charge upon request.
  • FM Flashpoints is a monthly publication about news items within the church available online.
  • Taglines is a weekly e-mail to pastors for the purpose of giving weekly encouragement.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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