What is the Free Methodist Church in Canada?
The Free Methodist Church is a movement of Christian congregations all across our country that are committed to sharing the good news of faith in Jesus Christ and encouraging believers into a life of ongoing transformation that impacts our families, our communities and our nation.
We are committed to the authority of the Bible and to the life of the Spirit. We seek to allow God to shape our whole lives - attitudes, thoughts and relationships. Free Methodists seek to help people find new life in Christ and to live lives of loving integrity.
We are committed to the biblical principle that all believers are participants in God’s purposes. Our churches are eager to help people discover how they can know God and serve others in meaningful ways and so bring about transformation in our world.
Free Methodist Church roots are deeply embedded in the spiritual awakening of 18th century England which gave rise to the Methodist movement. Today, the Free Methodist Church ministers in 70 countries around the world. In Canada, over 150 churches are located as far west as Vancouver and as far east as Sherbrooke.
Our Canadian Story
In the 1700s, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, lived and taught the message of hope in Jesus Christ. He viewed both his congregation and the whole world as his parish. The lives of hundreds of thousands in England were transformed by the life-giving power of faith in Jesus Christ. Slavery was abolished. Hospitals were founded. Child labour reform was enacted and schools were established. Wesley’s message proved that God could turn self-centered people into self-sacrificing servants.
In 1860, a group of North American Methodists renewed Wesley’s vision to transform the world, person by person through the message of God’s saving grace, calling themselves Free Methodists. This life of love for God and all people, also known as holiness, was a key message of B.T. Roberts, an early Free Methodist Leader.
One of our most important beliefs is that Jesus’ resurrection means more than just eternal life after death. Eternal life really begins at that moment when we actively receive Christ’s promise of salvation. The Holy Spirit starts changing us so that we can live a life that pleases God. We call this entire sanctification, which really means growing closer to Jesus each day. This gives us a new attitude toward our world.
Free Methodists are global Christians. With the complexity of technology and communication, it is said that our world view can shrink as the world becomes larger. We therefore need to be reminded, challenged and encouraged to keep our eyes on global needs.
Many historians have agreed that the main reason for the tremendous impact of the Wesleyan revival in England, and subsequently in North America, was John Wesley’s innovative methods of organizing everyone into small groups. Today, small groups and our membership orientation continue to challenge believers in their faith to adopt godly standards of living and be held accountable in a spirit of love.
We want to be people so surrendered to Jesus that we will do whatever it takes - worldwide - to proclaim His offer of salvation and to alleviate suffering, because that’s what Jesus would do.
In 1993, two Canadian districts from the BC (British Columbia) coast and interior, which had been part of the Pacific Northwest Conference in the U.S., merged with the Canadian General Conference. A further action was taken in December 1994, which merged the four Canadian Annual Conferences. Having become effective January 1, 1995, this action left one centralized location for denomination ministry and the discontinuance of regional offices.
An executive of Directors and the Bishop model team leadership. Network Mentors and Network Leaders (local church pastors) lead networks to empower churches in their intentional goals for kingdom growth (EKG).
Bishop Keith Elford leads the Canadian Church by election of the General Conference.
This information is taken from our national website at: http://www.fmc-canada.org/index.html (2009)
New Hope Church is the oldest Free Methodist Church in Muskoka. It was established in 1879 following a series of winter revival meetings conducted by Reverend Charles H. Sage. These were held in the S.S. #1 Macaulay school house east of Bracebridge.
The success of his efforts led to the building of a small frame church on Taylor Road that served the fledgling congregation for nearly a decade. In November, 1890, this edifice met its demise by fire. Determined to continue, the congregation decided to relocate to the town proper. A new church building and adjacent parsonage, were built in 1891 (located on historic Muskoka Road). Due to the hilltop location, and fervour of the church, this section of town was often referred to by the local populace as “Free Methodist Hill.”
A spiritually vibrant and numerically strong congregation caused church leaders to pursue a new site to construct a larger place of worship. In 1909 a new brick church was built that has continued to serve the needs of the congregation (with three major renovations over that time). Since February 12th, 1995, the Bracebridge Free Methodist Church has been called New Hope Church to reflect the merger with the congregation at Gravenhurst.
The Free Methodist work in Gravenhurst began about 1900 and eventually included a daughter church known as Pine Lake (1920 -1970). In 1993, a fire destroyed the newly renovated sanctuary of the Gravenhurst Church which ultimately precipitated amalgamation with the Bracebridge church.
A cemetery associated with the early Taylor road church property was established in 1882. Although used for many decades, it was ultimately turned over to the Bracebridge Cemetery Board in 1972.
(Information compiled by Gary Denniss).