Pietist-Methodist Family: Intrafaith Organizations
Pietist-Methodist Family: Intrafaith Organizations
International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches
19 Florentina Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
Alternate Address: International headquarters: Regnergatan 8, S-11381, Stockholm, Sweden.
The International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches is a fellowship of churches that share a common heritage in the pietist Free Church traditions of continental Europe as they emerged in the nineteenth century. These churches have their roots in the eighteenth century when congregations of Protestantism that were organizationally unattached to the state churches were formed in Switzerland, France, and Italy. They shared an emphasis on personal faith and accepted the Bible as their only creed. As early as 1834, the Swiss congregations at Berne, Basel, and Zurich attempted an organization that would include similar churches in France and Northern Italy, an attempt that met with strong government disapproval.
Finally in 1910, the Swiss congregations came together as the Union of Free Evangelical Churches in Switzerland. Meanwhile a similar impulse in Sweden gave birth to the Mission Covenant Church, which, due to the steady immigration of members to the United States, developed a branch in North America. Evangelism produced affiliate branches in Denmark and Norway. During the twentieth century, the Mission Covenant Church developed a program that included Africa and Latin America. Since World War II, these missions have matured into autonomous churches that retain a close association with their parent body.
Leaders from the various European Churches began to meet in the 1920s and in the 1930s were joined by leaders from the United States. Gatherings continued after World War II and in 1948 led to the formation of the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches. The federation holds international gatherings as irregular intervals.
Membership: The federation now includes member churches from around the world. Among the North American members are the Evangelical Free Church of North America and the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Bauswein, Jean-Jacques, and Lukas Vischer, eds. The Reformed Family Worldwide: A Survey of Reformed Churches, Theological Schools, and International Organizations. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999.
International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches. http://www.iffec.org/. 7 May 2002.
Persson, Walter. Free and United: The Story of the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches. Chicago: Covenant Publications, 1998.
Westin, Gunar. The Free Church Through the Ages. Nashville, TN: Broad-man Press, 1958.
World Methodist Council
Lake Junaluska, NC 28745
The United Methodist Council continues the effort to link different facets of the movement that originated in the ministry of John Wesley in the eighteenth century. By the 1880s, that movement had spread around the world through the missionary endeavors of both British and American Methodists and a number of distinct churches had arisen due primarily to differences over issues of church governannce and reace. The initial efforts to develop a worldwide fellowship among churches of the Wesleyan heritage occurred in 1881 in London at the first Ecumenical Methodist Conference. Thirty Methodist bodies were represented by the 400 delegates. Beginning with that initial conference, similar gatherings were held every decade through the middle of the next century. The 1941 Conference was delayed until 1947, due to World War II. Then in 1951, the Conference changed its name to World Methodist Council and made the decision to meet every five years.
Through the years, the emphases of the council has altered as times have changed. Most importantly, former missionary conferences have grown into autonomous churches and a number of Methodist bodies have merged into national United Protestant bodies (United Church of Canada, Church of South India, United Protestant Church of Belgium). Today, the council endeavors to strengthen internatioanl ties, promote understanding, clarify theological and moral standards, and identify priorities for the Methodist movement. It has developed a program which includes support for Methodist education, worldwide evangelism, publishing, and interchange of clergy and laity between churches. The emphasis on evangelism has led to the formation of a World Evangelism Division which calls member churches to train people for indigenous evangelism and develop new resources for Christian mission, the World Methodist Evangelism Institute as joint project with Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
The council is guided by and executive committee which meets biannually. It plans the international conference which gathers as many as 4,000 people every five years. The council also represents the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition at the annual Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions. In like measure, it has initiated and responded to overtures for dialogue with sister organizations such as the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Since 1967 it has had regular meetings with the International Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Roman Catholic Church.
Membership: The council links Methodist churches in 132 countries with a combined membership of 36 million. Members in North America include African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the Free Methodist Church of Canada, the United Church of Canada, the United Methodist Church, the Wesleyan Church, the Church of the Nazarene, and the Methodist Church of Mexico.
Periodicals: World Parish. • Flame.
Burke, Emory Stevens, ed. The History of American Methodism. 3 vols. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1964.