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Introduction

OUR FOUNDATIONS

1. Our Purpose
The Free Methodist Church exists 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
equip for ministry all who respond in faith

2. Our Vision
It is the vision of The Free Methodist Church in Canada to see a healthy church within the reach
of all people in Canada and beyond.

3. Our Mission in Canada
Our Mission:
Following God’s activity in our “Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias and beyond,” The Free Methodist
Church in Canada (FMCIC) will….

  • Find ways to engage unreached people and unreached communities with the gospel
  • Mature congregations through developing healthy pastoral and lay leaders
  • Commission prepared people to purposeful service
  • Interpret life theologically through intentional reflection
  • Invest human and financial resources strategically
  • Communicate and celebrate through listening to and inspiring one another.

4. Our Core Values
Persons

  • All persons are made in the image of God and possess intrinsic worth.
  • All persons have a need to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
  • All persons can be saved and begin a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • All persons have their own gifts to contribute to the kingdom.

Church

  • The Christian community is the foundation for the growth of the Kingdom of God on earth.
  • The Christian community is the primary context for developing believers.
  • The Christian community is to minister in Jesus’ name to all people.
  • The Christian community is to worship and serve God.

Team

  • Teamwork demonstrates the diversity of spiritual gifts and personal competencies within the
    church.
  • Teamwork recognizes our dependence on God and each other.
  • Teamwork maximizes the leadership resources of the church.
  • Teamwork builds Christian community.

Connectionalism

  • Free Methodists share a common theology, membership covenant, and leadership system.
  • Free Methodists co-operate with other parts of the Christian church in redemptive endeavours
    and political response.
  • Free Methodists build healthy inter-congregational cooperation, celebration and support.
  • Free Methodists affirm diverse approaches to accomplish our common vision and mission.

Integrity

  • Integrity is grounded in the character of God.
  • Integrity establishes a framework for all relationships.
  • Integrity guides all strategies, actions and programs.
  • Integrity ensures the appropriate use of time, money, and energy.

Learning

  • Learning leads to excellence.
  • Learning leads to creativity.
  • Learning leads to faithfulness to biblical essentials.
  • Learning increases skill.

Growth

  • The Scriptures call for every church to grow.
  • The Scriptures call for the evangelization of the unreached.
  • The Scriptures call for every Christian to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.
  • The Scriptures call for every Christian to participate in the growth of the church.

Generosity

  • God is generous to all. Becoming more like Him, we extend God’s love through
    generosity to others.

  • Generosity is grace-enabled as we trust God in all circumstances.
  • Generosity is a source of joy and blessing as we join God in His ministry.
  • Generosity glorifies God.

THE HISTORY OF THE FREE METHODIST CHURCH
The Free Methodist Church is best understood within the framework of the biblical concept of the
church and the perspective provided by its historical heritage.
1. Biblical Concept of the Church
It is clear from Scripture that the church is of God and for people. It is His creation. Christ is its
head. The church is the people of God chosen for a purposeful partnership in accomplishing the
will of God on earth. More than eighty word pictures relating to the church appear in the New
Testament.
What is the profound truth that the many word pictures convey? God—Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit—takes a redeemed people into partnership to share in His activities and to realize His
purposes. The church is the organic, corporate instrument God has chosen to remake people and
society. It has a mission of holy love. The church exists to produce Christ-likeness in humans and
their institutions. Thus our mission may be described as participation with God in bringing
holiness and love to bear upon the sins, hurts, and needs of people. This description of our
mission is both individual and social. It points to a social relationship of people to God and to
each other described in Scripture as “the kingdom of God.”
When the church is acting under the headship of its Lord and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it
continues the story begun in the book of Acts. Since the first century the church has experienced
many wonderful achievements. Many more are yet to be realized in the unfolding drama of the
acts of the Holy Spirit through redeemed people.
The New Testament reminds us that the church visible is not the church ideal. Because the church
is a divine-human partnership, sharing not only in the holy love of its founder but in the
blemishes of its humanity, it is ever in need of renewal. God takes the same risk with the church
in redemption as He did when He granted humans freedom in creation.
2. Historical Heritage and Perspective
Free Methodists consider the story of the church in the book of Acts and the other New
Testament writings as their primary heritage. Generation after generation derives from this record
their main source of direction and renewal. Followers of God have wrestled with issues both old
and new throughout the centuries just as they do now. The entire history of the church is
instructive for us.
Free Methodists claim a line of evangelical descent spelled out in large terms as follows: they
trace their spiritual heritage through men and women of deep personal piety in all ages who have
shown that it is possible to maintain the glow of spiritual fervour in the midst of paganism,
apostasy, and the periods of corruption in the established church.
The lineage of The Free Methodist Church begins with the people of God in the Old and New
Testaments. It is continued in the great Councils and Patristic writings and teachings of the early
Church Fathers. It also includes influences and contributions from the multitude of renewal
movements in western Christianity: Wycliffe and the German Moravians (from whom Wesley
learned the concept of “the witness of the Spirit”); the sixteenth century Reformation with its
many counterbalancing renewal movements, not the least of which were the Arminian correctives
(which taught that Christ’s salvation was for all mankind without limit, but that it must be freely
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chosen); the Catholic-Anglican tradition; the English Puritan influence; the Methodist tradition;
and the nineteenth century holiness movement. God has used these and others across the ages to
make the unchanging Christian gospel known more clearly. In summary, Free Methodists
identify with the flow of history of the Christian church while maintaining distinctive evangelical
and spiritual emphases.
The contributions from church history may be detailed as follows:
The Free Methodist Church reflects historic Christian orthodoxy in that its roots are solidly
fastened to the time tested statements put forth in the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, The
Formula of Chalcedon, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion in the Church of England; and the
Twenty-five Articles of the Methodist Episcopal Church of 1784.
The Reformation heritage is reflected in the commitment to the Bible as the supreme rule of faith
and life and to salvation by grace through faith. Desire for church order and appreciation for
liturgical form reveals the Catholic-Anglican influence. The emphasis on the essentials of the
faith allows for openness towards differing views on such subjects as modes of baptism and the
millennium.
The Methodist heritage is shown in theological, ecclesiastical and social concerns articulated by
the Reverend John Wesley and his associates in the eighteenth century and reaffirmed through the
holiness movement of the nineteenth.
Theologically, The Free Methodist Church is committed to the Wesleyan-Arminian affirmation of
the saving love of God in Christ. Through prevenient grace He seeks to bring every individual to
Himself but grants to each the responsibility of accepting or rejecting that salvation. Salvation is a
living relationship with God in Jesus Christ, giving the believer a legal position of righteousness,
and therefore affirming the security of all who continue in fellowship with Him. Along with the
Arminian emphasis on the universal offer of salvation, John Wesley rediscovered the principle of
assurance through the witness of the Holy Spirit. He declared a scriptural confidence in a God
who is able to cleanse the hearts of believers from sin here and now by faith, fill them with the
Holy Spirit, and empower them for carrying out His mission in the world.
Ecclesiastically, the Methodist heritage is continued in Free Methodist organization. There are
lines of responsibility connecting local, conference, and denominational ministries. Small groups
of believers are accountable to one another for growth in Christian life and service. Free
Methodists are concerned for the whole church, not just the local congregation. They value the
leadership of bishops, superintendents, pastors, and lay leaders who provide counsel and direction
to the church.
Born at a time when representative government was being developed by free societies, The Free
Methodist founders reaffirmed the biblical principle of lay ministry. 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.
Socially, from their early days, Free Methodists displayed an awakened conscience characteristic
of the early Wesleyan movement. Their outspoken action against the institution of slavery and the
class distinction inherent in the rental of pews to the wealthy demonstrated the spirit of true
Methodism. Although issues change, the sensitive social conscience remains, evidenced by
continuing active participation in the social concerns of the day.
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During the nineteenth century, the holiness movement, arising in American Methodism but
spreading through other nations and denominations, called Christians to deeper levels of
relationship with God and greater concern for the needs of hurting humanity. Within this context,
the Reverend Benjamin T. Roberts and other ministers and laypersons in the Genesee Conference
of the Methodist Church in western New York, raised a protest against theological liberalism,
unhealthy compromise on pressing social issues, and loss of spiritual fervour.
Between 1858 and 1860, a number of these leaders were excluded from the Methodist Episcopal
Church on various charges and allegations. In reality, the primary issue was their proclamation of
the basic principles of Methodism, especially the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification.
Appeals made to the General Conference of May 1860 were denied. On August 23 of that year,
they met in an apple orchard in Sanborn, New York, to form The Free Methodist Church. Today,
Centenary Park marks the approximate location of that historic event.
“Free” was chosen as an adjective in the name to signify their belief that slaves should go free,
pews should be free of rent to any who wished to attend church, members should be free from
oaths of secrecy in secret societies, and the freedom of the Spirit should be acknowledged in
public worship. The body that began inauspiciously in an orchard in western New York is now at
work in 50 countries of the world, one of which is Canada.
3. Methodism in Canada
Prior to the emergence of The Free Methodist Church in Canada, Methodism had already had a
long history in Canadian society. Methodism came to Canada through the influence of Paul and
Barbara Heck. Originating in Germany, the Hecks had emigrated first to Ireland, where Barbara
was converted at the age of 28 under Methodist preaching, possibly that of John Wesley himself.
In the early sixties of the 18th century, they sailed for New York, along with Barbara’s cousin
Philip Embury and his family. During the time of the American Revolution, Paul and Barbara
Heck and Philip Embury’s widow, Mary, and their son, fled to the Prescott area of Upper Canada.
Remembering gratefully the protection they had received under the British Crown when they had
fled from Germany to Ireland, they now joined the movement into Canada of thousands of United
Empire Loyalists whose loyalties to Britain would not allow them to join the rebel cause in the
colonies. So it was that Paul Heck was present when the first Canadian Methodist circuit was
organized in 1791, the year of John Wesley’s death.
The Methodist cause spread rapidly in Canada. Within ninety years, and after two mergers, there
were five different non-ethnic branches: The Methodist Church of Canada, Methodist Episcopal
Church, Primitive Methodist Church, Bible Christian Church and the infant Free Methodist
Church. The first four merged into one Methodist body in 1883. This body later merged with
Congregationalists and a significant number of Presbyterians to become the United Church of
Canada in 1925.
4. Free Methodism in Canada
In the fall of 1873 and winter of 1874 General Superintendent, B. T. Roberts visited the area just
north and east of the city of Toronto, now Scarborough, on the invitation of Robert Loveless, a
Primitive Methodist layman. Later, in 1876 while presiding over the very young North Michigan
Conference, he read conference appointments that assigned C.H. Sage his field of labour—
Canada!
Introduction, page
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Revised 11/1/02
vi
Reluctantly, Sage came to southwestern Ontario. He was well received by disaffected Methodists,
unhappy with the direction in which the larger Methodist bodies were moving. He preached a
gospel calling men and women to conversion and the unconverted responded in encouraging
numbers. His preaching took him as far north as the Muskoka region. By 1880, the Canada
Conference consisted of two districts, 11 societies, 13 preaching points and 324 members.
In the early years, the work grew rapidly. Churches were formed in eastern Ontario. By the early
twentieth century it had spread to the prairies of western Canada. By 1920, there was an impetus
to consolidate as a distinctly Canadian body. The result was the All Canada Conference—a
gathering of western and eastern leaders in Sarnia, Ontario. It was a landmark event of praying,
planning and dreaming. Out of that meeting came such results as the formation of a Canadian
Executive Board to manage distinctly Canadian matters, the launching of the Canadian Free
Methodist Herald, and the establishment of Lorne Park College in Port Credit, Ontario. The
passing of a Federal Act of Incorporation in 1927 was also largely traceable to the All Canada
Conference in Sarnia. In 1940, Aldersgate College was founded in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan,
another result of the vision generated at the All Canada Conference.
The Free Methodist Church in Canada was further strengthened in 1959 by a merger with the
Holiness Movement Church. This latter denomination was the product of revivals in the
Methodist churches of the Ottawa Valley under Ralph Horner during the waning years of the
nineteenth century. This union, brought about by the labour of strong leaders in both bodies
enlarged the world vision of the Canadian church by adding missionary concerns in Egypt, Brazil
and Northern Ireland, fields the Holiness Movement Church had established.
In the early nineteen-seventies Canadian Free Methodist leaders applied to the Free Methodist
Church of North America requesting authorization for the Canadian Church to become a general
conference in its own right. Consultation resulted in the establishment of a Canadian
Jurisdictional Conference, a halfway step, which came into being in August of 1974. At the
General Conference of 1989, held in Seattle, Washington, the Canadian Jurisdictional Conference
was authorized to form as a General Conference. On August 6, 1990, the Canadian General
Conference was inaugurated in Mississauga, Ontario. At the Second General Conference of The
Free Methodist Church in Canada, held in 1993, the British Columbia District of the Pacific
Northwest Conference became a part of The Free Methodist Church in Canada.
The Bishops of The Free Methodist Church in Canada
Donald N. Bastian 1974-1993
Gary R. Walsh 1993-1997
Keith A. Elford 1997- 2017
Cliff Fletcher 2017-