Friday, July 8, 2011

The Free Methodist Church Prepares For General Conference

On July 13 - 17 the Free Methodist Church will meet in General Conference on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College & Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, NY. 

The Free Methodist Church was organized in 1860 near Rochester, New York.  It arose out of the conflict within the Methodist Episcopal Church (now known as the United Methodist Church) over the Wesleyan interpretation of the doctrine of entire sanctification as well as issues such as slavery, free pews, secret societies, and freedom in worship.  Benjamin Titus Roberts was the denominations first bishop.  (Originally he was designated "general superintendent," Wesley's term for the episcopal office, but later the denomination chose to use the more historic designation of bishop.  -  A move I wish we, Nazarenes, would follow!)

The Free Methodist Church, like the Church of the Nazarene and The Wesleyan Church, is a Wesleyan-Holiness expression of Methodism.  Like the other two Wesleyan-Holiness churches, the Free Methodist Church is a affiliated with the Christian Holiness Partnership (which is no longer organized), the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the World Methodist Council.  The three denominations have strong fraternal connections.

Like most (at least American) denominations in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition, the Free Methodist Church meets for their General Conference every four years.  This Conference marks the denomination's "sesquicentennial."

The General Conference can be followed a number of ways.  There is a website set up for the Conference, here.  Additionally, portions of the Conference will be available via live stream.  Information about that, as well as other General Conference information can be found at the General Conference website.   Of particular interest for many will be the various resolutions provided on the website.  For readers of this blog, you may find interesting the resolution on "open communion," which has already been rejected.

I encourage the readers of this blog to keep our Free Methodist brothers and sisters in our prayers during this important Conference.


Avey said...

Why do you think Nazarenes should have Bishops?

Todd Stepp said...

Avey, I'm heading out the door, so not much time to comment. I think Nazarenes DO have bishops. We, like the FM and the UMC used to do and the Wesleyan Church still does, call them general superintendents (WEsley's term).

If you search my blog, I believe there is a General Assembly resolution explaining this, somewhere.

Eric + said...

I agree that we do have an episkopos, we just call them superintendents rather than bishops. As far as function goes, epsikopos seems to me to have three functions:

1) Connection, ie the episkopos is the visible connection between the many individual congregations.

2) Interpretive, ie the episkopos is the one(s) who authoritatively interpret scripture and polity

3) Ordination, ie the episkopos is the one who ordains presbyters (elders/priests) and diakonos (deacons).

I think the two more relevant questions are who are the episkopos? (check the older posts, Todd and I have debated that before) and should the episkopos be understood as an office or an order?

Great question Avey