In 1881, several years before the mission board was organized, Ernest and Phebe Ward went to India backed by the prayers and occasional financial support of the home church. Ten years later, a board-appointed missionary, Miss Ceila Ferries, arrived.
The Free Methodist Church was assigned to minister in central India in the state of Maharashtra. The work was difficult and slow. During the famine years, beginning in 1899, church orphanages were built in Yavatmal district for homeless children.
In 1937 the first annual conference was organized. Two years later, a Bible college was opened which became Union Biblical Seminary (UBS), one of the first evangelical seminaries in Asia. Umri Christian Hospital opened in 1951.
In the 1980s ministries were extended to Mumbai (Bombay). This ministry in western India flourished, and by 1994 work expanded to other states in the cities of Bangalore and Mysore. Bangalore became an annual conference in 2003, and a new mission district was organized in Hyderabad.
From the late 1970s, indigenous movements to Christ among Indian tribal groups have grown rapidly. Two of these, Agape Fellowship and Immanuel Fellowship, joined the Free Methodist family, adding nearly 100,000 members and 1,000 churches.
A missionary training Bible college is located in Yavatmal. Umri Christian Hospital’s expanded ministries include an English school and nursing school. Through International Child Care Ministries, hundreds of children are cared for in 11 hostels. Micro-enterprise projects empower members to support their families. Other effective ministries include English elementary and secondary schools, a university, vacation Bible schools and several foundations for social ministries.
In September 2005, the Free Methodist Church celebrated 125 years of ministry. At that time the formal inauguration of the church as a provisional general conference was held, along with the consecration of the three bishops. In October 2013 the India FMC celebrated general conference status.
Read more about the Free Methodist Church in India
“Desperate Times” by David Yardy: Umri Christian Hospital
“Going Out: Ernest and Phebe Ward” by Sherrill Yardy
Supporting the India CSA will help fund:
- Trainers and materials for Community Church Planting to enable church multiplication through effective discipleship
- Provision of needed resources to the many church planters for effective ministry
- Training to strengthen the ministries of those pastoring existing churches and to prepare new pastors
"To My People"
"Witnesses of Truth – Hinduism in India" one segment