Superintendent David Harvey preached at this year’s annual conference on “The Gift of the Holy Spirit.” His sermon concluded a three-part series on the Holy Spirit’s work that he has taught conference leaders to emphasize Free Methodism’s historic emphasis on holiness of heart and life as ministry’s foundation. Harvey revealed four teachings of the Welsh revival in 1904: Confess openly any known sin. Do away with any doubtful behavior or habit. Obey the Holy Spirit promptly. Confess Christ openly and publicly before the world.
The conference has seen the Spirit’s power in action while taking a new approach to church planting. In an interview, Harvey said his conference has moved “from a model where the conference initiated church plants to where local churches initiate church plants,” and “a lot of churches have caught that vision.” Harvey added that churches are springing up so fast that it’s hard to keep track. “Four years ago, we had no churches in Paterson (New Jersey), and today there are three and maybe a fourth.”
The conference has connected with immigrants and refugees, and the conference’s churches offer worship services in at least 10 different languages. “We keep looking for places where God wants to take us, and He keeps taking us to new people groups,” Harvey said. “Everybody gets a seat at the table in our conference.”
A Haitian church in Brooklyn recently planted another church, and the Free Methodist Telugu Church of Silver Spring, Maryland, recently established the Free Methodist Indian Church plant in Frederick, Maryland, that already is averaging 70 people and attracting in-depth coverage in local news media.
The conference also has connected with many Free Methodists from Africa who are resettling in the United States and planting churches that are attracting other African immigrants. Waynesboro (Virginia) Free Methodist Church Pastor Chris Pulice oversees a dozen African churches as the interim regional superintendent for African ministries.
Pulice first became involved with ministry to African immigrants after retired missionary Jim Kirkpatrick called him and asked him to connect with 70 Free Methodists who had moved from the nation of Burundi to Roanoke, Virginia, which lacked a Free Methodist Church and is an hour and a half drive from Waynesboro.
“We helped get them connected, and now there’s a Roanoke Free Methodist Church,” Pulice said. “They’re a thriving, growing, fruitful ministry that just purchased a 12,000-square-foot warehouse that they’re renovating to become a church.”
The Roanoke Free Methodists connected Pulice with African refugees across the United States, and he is trying to connect them with the Free Methodist Church – USA.
“In any city that takes refugees, there are probably Free Methodist Africans there, and in a lot of cases, they’re struggling to find a Free Methodist Church. In other cases, they’re struggling to know how to connect,” Pulice said.
The refugees include ordained Free Methodist elders, some of whom have transferred into the Acts 12:24 Churches and are now appointed to a local church in the conference. They also include people who have been serving as lay pastors, and conference leaders are working with some of them to become licensed pastors or conference ministerial candidates pursuing ordination.
Pulice also sees the influence of African immigration on the local level. Ebenezer Murengezi, Waynesboro’s associate pastor, is a refugee from Rwanda who lived in multiple countries before coming to the United States and becoming a citizen. Murengezi speaks seven languages, and he has proved to be invaluable as a translator as Acts 12:24 connects with African refugees from different countries. Visit fmchr.ch/murengezi for a video of Murengezi’s story.
Acts 12:24 increasingly reflects its namesake verse: “But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.”