Background and History of the FM Denomination
Background and history
We in the UK are part of the global Free Methodist Movement which currently ministers in over 80 countries worldwide.
It was in the late 1960s that God began to speak to a number of Methodists in England about the need to establish a totally evangelical Methodist Church. The conviction grew when God spoke through Esther chapter 4 verse 14.
“If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place but you and your father's family will perish and who knows but that you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this.”
These words, originally spoken by Mordecai to Queen Esther, came with such force and authority to those concerned about the drift into liberal theology that they felt compelled to respond. It was out of concern for the church and a desire to reach the next generation that the decision to establish the Free Methodist Church in England was taken.
The first Free Methodist fellowship in England was organised in May 1971 at Heysham in Lancashire and was pastored by Rev Frank Mitchell. Another congregation was established at Winstanley, near Wigan and was pastored by Rev Ron Taylor. A group of three fellowships centred on Garstang, near Preston, was pastored by Rev J Barrie Walton and by the end of 1971 these five churches had a total of around 100 members.
Since that time the Free Methodist Church has continued to grow, so that we now have churches not only in the North West but also in the South West and Midlands, as well as Northern Ireland. We are part of the FMC in North America and the Bishop with oversight for the UK is Rev. David Roller.
The Rev J Barrie Walton, founding pastor of the Garstang, Great Eccleston, Crown Lane, Fulwood and Penwortham Free Methodist Churches, believes that God established the Free Methodist Church in England with a calling to be:
The Free Methodist Church was first organised by a group of lay members and ministers at Pekin, New York, USA on 23 August 1860. The name ‘Free’ was chosen because the newly established Methodist Church wanted freedom for all slaves, freedom from secret societies, freedom from materialism in order to help the poor, free seats in church and a style of service which allowed freedom for the Holy Spirit to minister. The name “Methodist” was retained because the founders wanted to promote Wesleyan theology, encourage holy living and use orderly methods to fulfil their mission to make disciples.
The Free Methodist Church embraces and promotes the best traditions of historic Christianity, which can be shown to be based upon the teaching of the Bible. Our Articles of Religion are based on the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church and were originally drawn up by John Wesley for the Methodist Church overseas.
The Free Methodist Church emphasises scriptural holiness, practical godliness, social concern, Christian education, evangelism and foreign missions.
The Free Methodist Church Worldwide
As part of the world wide movement of the Free Methodist Church we have interests throughout the world through our missionaries and our short term Volunteers In Service Abroad (VISA) programme. Our churches minister in many continents through these ministries from Eastern Europe to Africa and South America to Asia. We are also involved in child support ministries through our denominational "Child Care Ministries" programme.
We express our world vision through the ministry in over 80 countries of the world and there are major ministries in the central African countries of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi where we have over 200,000 church members.