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Methodist Denominations
 
 






African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church
Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church
Free Methodist Church
United Methodist (UM) Church
Wesleyan Church

 

Methodism traces its heritage to John and Charles Wesley in England in the 1730s. Here we feature six denominations in the Wesleyan tradition with headquarters in the United States. Their U.S. membership ranges from 69,000 to 8,300,000. Each has additional members in other countries.

They all stem from the Methodist Episcopal Church, which organized in Baltimore in 1784. Their history is that of division and separation, but also some coming together again.

Reflecting their common origin, each has an elected governing body called the General Conference that meets every four years. Each has an episcopal form of governance with bishops (though called general superintendents in the Wesleyan Church) who have authority over appointment of clergy and other matters. The bishops are co-equals on a council or board of bishops without a presiding bishop of higher rank. All except the Free Methodist Church have governing rules called the Discipline, derived from a common origin in the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Among their differences the AME, AMEZ, and CME are predominantly African American in their U.S. membership. The United Methodist Church has considerable racial and ethnic diversity though a white majority. The Free Methodist Church and the Wesleyan Church are more evangelical in their orientation. All six engage in missionary outreach. Among them they have local congregations in Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific region.



The African Methodist Episcopal Church formed in Philadelphia in 1816. Founders were African Americans who left the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1790s because of racial discrimination. Today it has 2,300,000 members in the United States. It also has churches in the Caribbean, Africa, England, and Canada.

The AME Church is governed by a General Conference that meets every four years. The next session will be in 2004. It is organized into 19 episcopal districts, each headed by a bishop.

Its administrative departments include Christian Education and Global Witness & Ministries. It has a Women's Missionary Society.

The Christian Recorder is the official organ of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.



The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed as a denomination in 1820 in New York. This was preceded by withdrawal of African Americans from the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1790s because of racial discrimination. Today it has 1,400,000 members in the United States and churches in the Caribbean, Africa, and England.

A quadrennial General Conference, meeting next in 2004, is the governing body of the AMEZ Church. There are 12 episcopal districts headed by bishops.

The AMEZ Church has departments for Overseas Mission, Christian Education, Sunday School Literature, Church Extension and Home Missions, Evangelism, and Health and Social Concerns and also a Women's Home and Overseas Missionary Society.

The Star of Zion is the official publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

 

The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1870 by former slaves who left the Methodist Episcopal Church South in the aftermath of the Civil War. It now has 850,000 members in the United States.

The CME Church is governed by a General Conference that meets every four years, next time in 2006. There are 10 episcopal districts headed by bishops.

It has departments for Christian Education, Evangelism & Mission, Lay Ministry, and Publications. There is a Women's Missionary Council.

The Christian Index is the official publication of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

 

The Free Methodist Church of North America organized in 1860 as an offshoot of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It has 69,000 members in the United States. It has mission outreach to Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

The Free Methodist Church is governed by a General Conference that meets every four years, next time in 2003. It has four bishops, who serve geographic areas in North America.

Its Board of Administration has units for Budget and Finance, Missions, and Communications. Another unit is Women's Ministries International.

Light and Life is the official magazine of the Free Methodist Church.


 

The United Methodist Church is a direct descendant of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Along the way this original body experienced departure of members who formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1816), African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (1820), Methodist Protestant Church (1830), Wesleyan Connection (1843), Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1846), and Free Methodist Church (1860).

Partial reuniting commenced in 1939 when the Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and Methodist Protestant Church merged to become the Methodist Church. In 1968 this body joined together with the United Evangelical Brethren Church to become the United Methodist Church, its present name.

The United Methodist Church is a global body. It has 8,300,000 members in the United States and 1,500,000 elsewhere with sizable membership particularly in Africa and in the Philippines. This entire membership is represented in the quadrennial General Conference, the governing body that meets next in 2004.

The Council of Bishops has membership from the United States and abroad. In the United States 50 resident bishops preside over 66 annual conferences. Another 18 bishops are in charge of conferences in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines.

The administrative structure of the United Methodist Church is decentralized with a number of semi-autonomous general agencies, including Church and Society, Discipleship, Global Ministries, Higher Education and Ministry, Religion and Race, Status and Role of Women, and some others. United Methodist Women receive staff support from the Women's Division in the General Board of Global Ministries.

Although only the General Conference may speak for the entire United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops, General Board of Church and Society, and the General Board of Global Ministries often issue statements on public policy issues.

Each general board has its own publications. There is no single, official publication for the United Methodist Church.


The Wesleyan Church traces its roots to the Wesleyan Methodist Connection, organized in 1843 by persons who left the Methodist Episcopal Church. There are currently about 3,600 Wesleyan churches in over 40 nations worldwide, including 1,700 local congregations in the United States and Canada. There are 123,000 members in the United States.

The Wesleyan Church is governed by a quadrennial General Conference that meets next in 2004. There are three general superintendents, each in charge of a geographic area, and a general secretary, who staffs the General Board. In North America there are 32 districts, each served by a district superintendent.

Administrative units include Communications, Sunday School & Discipleship, Evangelism & Church Growth, Education & Ministries, World Missions, and Youth.

The Wesleyan Advocate is the official publication of the Wesleyan Church.

 



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