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The Free Methodist Church is a Methodist religious denomination that is a part of the Holiness Movement. The Church is Evangelical in nature and has its roots in the Arminian-Wesleyan tradition.

The Free Methodist Church has nearly 732,000 members worldwide in 82 nations. Light & Life magazine is the official publication. The Free Methodist Church World Ministries Center is in Indianapolismarker, Indianamarker.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Free Methodist Church is to make known to all people everywhere God’s call to wholeness through forgiveness and holiness in Jesus Christ, and to invite into membership and to equip for ministry all who respond in faith.


The Free Methodist Church was organized at Pekin, New Yorkmarker, in 1860. The founders had been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church but were excluded from its membership for too earnestly advocating the doctrines and usages of historic Methodism. Under the leadership of Benjamin Titus (B. T.) Roberts, a graduate of Wesleyan University 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 Genesee Conference of the Methodist Church at Rochester, New York, a full acknowledgement was made of the wrong done to Rev. B. T. 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 B.T. 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 seats 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 Spirit in the services rather than a stifling formality.

Recent History

Free Methodist headquarters were located in Winona Lake, Indianamarker until 1990 when the denomination moved its headquarters to Indianapolismarker.[1385] The church has about 77,000 members in the United States and an average attendance of [107,000] [1386]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.


In doctrine, Free Methodists’ beliefs are the standard beliefs of evangelical, Arminian Protestantism, with distinctive emphasis on the scriptural teaching of entire sanctification as held by John Wesley, to whom the Free Methodist Church traces its origins.


The difference between "United Methodist" and "Free Methodist"

Many question the difference between the United Methodist Church and the Free Methodist Church. Both denominations share a common heritage linked to the Methodist revival in Englandmarker during the 1700s. There is very little difference in doctrine. There are more differences in practice and polity.

Women in Ministry

From its beginning the Free Methodist Church struggled with the issue of the ordination of women. 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.

Balance in Leadership

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.


The Free Methodist Church's highest governing 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 program Free Methodist World Missions, serving in 26 countries around the world. Through education, meals and medical care, children in need are given an opportunity for a better life.

SEED (Serving, Encouraging, Equipping, Discipling)

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. Provides an international market for products produced by Free Methodist artisans.

VISA Ministries (Volunteers in Service Abroad)

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:

Angola Australia Belgium Antigua Egypt Canada
Benin Cambodia Bulgaria Argentina Iraq United States
Botswana Hong Kong France Bahamas Jordan
Burundi India Greece Bolivia
Camaroon 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:

In addition, the Free Methodist Church is one of several denominations supporting Azusa Pacific Universitymarker(Azusa, CAmarker). Wessington Springs College is a former, now closed institution which was located in South Dakotamarker. Internationally, there is Osaka Christian College of the Japanese Free Methodist Church, Hope Africa University, a recently founded school in Bujumbura, Burundimarker, 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/loan at the following (JWSF) affiliated schools:


Both John Wesley and B. T. Roberts recognized the Christian’s unavoidable 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.


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

During its history, the 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 Publishing House accommodations. This was provided at vast cost and without the investment of any capital by the general church.

In 1960, the Publishing House board issued a deed in favor of the general church, whereby the church became the owner of the old Publishing House 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 Publishing House.


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.


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 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.


  1. 2007 Book of Discipline, Free Methodist Church of North America
  2. Editorial, Free Methodist, May 1941
  3. Light & Life magazine, July 1995
  4. A Brief Story of Our Church, C.L. Howland, Winona Lake, In.
  6. Free Methodist Church of North America
  7. The Female Pastor: Is There Room for She in Shepherd
  8. Free Methodist Church of North America
  9. 2007 Book of Discipline, Free Methodist Church of North America
  10. World Conference
  11. membership
  12. Free Methodist World Missions
  13. Light & Life magazine, July 1995
  14. Hope Africa University
  15. Light & Life magazine, July 1995
  16. B.H. Gaddis, publisher, 1933-1954
  17. Snapshots, Donald E. Demaray, 1985,229-230
  18. Light and Life magazine, January 1989
  19. Light and Life Press, 1993
  20. Light & Life
  21. World Mission People
  22. FM Flashpoints

External links

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