Happy Birthday Free Methodist Church!

Happy 154th Birthday154 years ago the Free Methodist denomination was organized on August 23, 1860 in a camp meeting grove in Pekin, New York.

According to Bishop Leslie Marston’s From Age to Age a Living Witness, pg 252 & 253

“The Challenge:  The call for a convention at Pekin, NY to be held in conjunction with a camp meeting in that place, appeared in the August (1860) issue of The Earnest Christian. Significantly enough, this call sounded the challenge on items involving the five issues of Free Methodism’s origin as analyzed in our introductory chapter and as reflected in Roberts’ epochal article, “New School Methodism.” The statement of these issues is repeated here for a clearer understanding of the relevance thereto of the call.

1. Doctrine:  The Scriptural doctrine of entire sanctification according to the Arminian-Wesleyan interpretation;

2. Experience: A corresponding experience of cleansing and power;

3. Worship: Spirituality and simplicity of worship in the freedom of the Spirit;

4. Piety: A way of holy living that separates the Christian from the world;

5. Stewardship: Full consecration for service to God and man.

It will be observed that item “1” of the call which follows is a comprehensive statement, touching upon all five of the above.  Item “3” deals further with matters of Stewardship as understood by a sensitive social conscience.  Item “2” is related to the broad concept of Stewardship, involving as it does a call to domocratic reform in church government.  The particulars listed in the call by no means exhaust the above five principles, but represent some of the areas of more acute and immediate concern to the reformers.

The call read as follows:

A convention will be held at Pekin, for the purpose of adopting a Discipline for the Free Methodist Church, to commence at the close of the camp meeting, August 23rd.  All societies and bands that find it necessary, in order to promote the prosperity and permanency of the work of holiness, to organize a Free Church on the following basis, are invited to send delegates:

1. Doctrines and usages of primitive Methodism, such as the Witness of the Spirit, Entire Sanctification as a state of grace distinct from justification, attainable instantaneously by faith.  Free seats, and congregational singing, without instrumental music in all cases; plainness of dress.

2. An equal representation of ministers and members in all the councils of the Church.

3. No slaveholding and no connection with secret and oath bound societies.

Each society or band will be entitled to send one delegate at least; and an additional one for every forty members.

Delegates responding to the call numbered fifteen preachers and forty-five laymen.  In this connection it is interesting to note that the Pekin Convention, which launched a new denomination with a provision for “equal representation of ministers and laymen in all the councils of the Church,” had three times as many lay as ministerial members.”



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