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  #1  
Unread 16th July 2011, 09:35 PM
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Free and United Methodist

We have two Methodist congregations in town: Free Methodist and United Methodist. Could someone explain the difference to me please?

Thank you.
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  #2  
Unread 17th July 2011, 04:28 AM
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Hi there, welcome to Wesley's Parish

Someone else will have to give more details and correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know, it's a similar story to what happened in Britain.

Methodism arose as a movement in the 18th Century and as it grew, some people lost faith in the main body of Methodism and created a variety of different 'Methodist Churches' (for us the Primitive Methodists broke off and wanted to start again feeling that 'the Methodists' were losing their original focus on helping the poor, and wanted to revert to the Primitive roots of methodism). In the 20th Century a feeling arose for unity amongst the groups so in the case of Methodism in the USA, in 1968, the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Evangelical brethren joined together to create the United Methodist Church. As they did this, there were other Methodist groups who, for whatever reason, did not take part in this unifying merger. These are the Free Methodists; they are Free as they are not aligned to the structure and command of the main Methodist movement, but they adhere to Methodist theology.

Between the two, the theology is very similar. In practice, Free Methodists are probably more evangelical. The Free Methodist Church is much smaller than the UMC, but as far as I know has congregations in more countries (they exist in Great Britain for one, which the UMC does not). Their UK 'about us' page says that here they formed in originally in 1971, which to me suggests that they disagreed with the ordination of women as that's when we began to ordain women. So they agree with fundamental Methodist theology but disagree in some other respects etc.
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Unread 17th July 2011, 06:06 AM
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The original split in the 1800s that created the Free Methodists was - if I recall correctly - over pew fees and slavery. It was common at the time for churches to charge a fee to patrons that sat in the pews, which the Free Methodists disagreed with. If they formed out of the Methodist Church, South, then the Free Methodists likely also split because they were abolitionists. I'm more sure of the pew fee issue, though.

This seems somewhat strange to modern denominations (including the UMC) that neither charge fees nor support slavery, but as with most things, that was simply the original problem. Over time, the cultural or theological differences would grow, and so they wouldn't necessarily want to re-unite, even if the original two problems had long since been resolved.
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Unread 17th July 2011, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Qyt27 View Post
The original split in the 1800s that created the Free Methodists was - if I recall correctly - over pew fees and slavery. It was common at the time for churches to charge a fee to patrons that sat in the pews, which the Free Methodists disagreed with. If they formed out of the Methodist Church, South, then the Free Methodists likely also split because they were abolitionists. I'm more sure of the pew fee issue, though.

This seems somewhat strange to modern denominations (including the UMC) that neither charge fees nor support slavery, but as with most things, that was simply the original problem. Over time, the cultural or theological differences would grow, and so they wouldn't necessarily want to re-unite, even if the original two problems had long since been resolved.
This is correct. The split was over pew fees.
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Unread 17th July 2011, 10:23 PM
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Thank you very much guys. It never occurred to me to wonder until now. I think I vaguely recall hearing about denominational splits over pew fees.
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Unread 18th July 2011, 11:21 PM
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From the official website of the Free Methodist Church: "The Free Methodist Church was founded in 1860, primarily as a result of controversies within the Genesee Conference (around Buffalo, NY) of the Methodist Episcopal Church."

There were more issues than just pew subscriptions, but that was one that the Free Methodist Church is very proud to proclaim today. Other, perhaps even more important issues: episcopal authority, ordination of women, and personality conflicts.

From "The Earnest Christian", a publication that is considered the founding newsletter of the Free Methodist Church. Here is (just the beginning of) an extended article from January 1860 which states what is seen as one of the problems in the then existing Methodist Episcopal Church.

F R E E CHURCHES.
By THE EDITOR.
Mankind need nothing so much, as the
universal prevalence of the Christian
religion, in its purity. This wCfuld allay
the evils under which humanity is
groaning, by remcving their cause.
It would bring Paradise back to earth.
For. the iiles^igs of the Gospel of
Christ there is no substitute. He who
enjoys them-, in their fulness, has all he
needs to make him happy. In their
absence, man is "'wretched, and miser-,
able, and poor, and blind, and naked.""
Things, trifling in themselves, become
important when they affect the
accomplishment of some great, beneficent
enterprise. A glass of wine overi
threw the Orleans dynasty, resultM.
in the horrors of civil war, and deluded
Frajice with the best blood of her (^ildren.
A passing cloud suggested to
Franklin the theory of electricityi and
led to the transmission of messages
upon the swift wing of the trained light^
ning. A small file may render worthless
the heaviest piece of artillery, and
decide the battle on which the fate of
nations is suspended.
The question of free churdies derives
its importance from its influence
upon the purity and the progress of
Christianity. It has a greater bearing
upon both, than many imagine. The
world wUl never become converted to
Christ, so long as the Churches are nducted
upon the exclusive system It
has always been contrary to the economy
of the Methodist church, to buUd
houses of worship with pews, to sell or
rent. But the spirit of the world has
encroached upon us by little, and little,
until in many parts of the United
States, not a single free church cmi be
found in any of the cities or larger villages.
The pew system generally obtains
among ^ denominations. We
are thoroughly con'rinced tEat this system
is wrong in principle, and bad in
its tendency. It is a corruption of
Christianity....

-----------------------------------------------------

Becaue the Free Methodist tend to be a bit more conservative and not by rule, but by peer pressure you find conformity to not dance, drink or smoke. At the same time United Methodists actually have rules on these some of these things yet people's behavior is all over the place. So, at the seminary I attend which was about 2/3 United Methodist and 1/3 Free Methodist, the running joke was that the United Methodists were about as united as the Free Methodist were free.
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Unread 23rd July 2011, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Romans Road View Post
One difference today is that the United Methodist Church supports abortion by being a founding member of a pro-abortion group (Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice) and supports a second pro-abortion organization (Religious Institute). The Free Methodists do not support either organization.

I am not trying to turn this into an abortion debate - I am just pointing out that there is a difference between the UNited Methodist and the Free Methodist churches when it comes to abortion. The original poster was asking what some of the differences were, so I am just pointing out one difference.
I don't want to turn this into an abortion debate either, but I do want to turn this into an understanding Methodism debate.

Officially, the United Methodist Church DOES NOT support abortion. You (and perhaps others) may feel this way for the reasons that you have given, but with regard to the United Methodist Church it is important, VERY important, to understand that no one (including the groups you have named) can speak for the United Methodist Church except the denomination's quadrenial General Conference. Every 4 years we meet to define ourselves through a document known as the Book of Discipline. And that book gives individuals and groups within the UMC lots of room to do and say certain things, but those things do NOT define us. It would be like saying that because certain elements within the United Methodist Church have preached against abortion on demand and have spent money that was used to fund pro-life organizations (events that are true) that the United Methodist Church supports the pro-life movement.

Both sets of conclusions (the one you gave and the alternate I just proposed) are false, for they show a lack of understanding of the way the United Methodist Church functions.

For instance, the poster states that "the United Methodist Church supports abortion by being a founding member of a pro-abortion group (Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice)." Also, the following is taken directly from the RCRC website with regards to its origins:
"Mainline Protestant and Jewish leaders meet at the United Methodist Building in Washington, DC, to discuss the Roman Catholic Churchs pledge to overturn the new U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. This meeting, called by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, leads to the formation of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR)."

I can understand why those who do not understand the way the United Methodist Church functions might see this as the UMC being a founding member. But read carefully, it is NOT the United Methodist Church, but the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church that was taking the lead here. This particular body has done many things in the past that typical United Methodists in the pew has disagreed with; things that some would have supported and some would have opposed; and things that perhaps the whole church would stand behind. But it matters not which of the above the founding of RCRC fits into (I suspect the middle ground), it is NOT something that was actually done by the United Methodist Church.

Again, only the General Conference meeting in session can speak for the UMC. For the 1973 founding of the RCRC to be something that was supported by the United Methodist Church as a founding member, the decision to do so would have had to have come before our 1972 General Conference. That meeting was held in Atlanta, GA in April of 1972; I remember because I attended it. And while abortion was discussed, the founding of Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice was not. In fact, in 1972 we passed exactly 6 resolutions at General Conference, they were: (1) Bishop's Call for Peace and the Self-Development of Peoples, (2) Children and Their Welfare and Health Care, (3) Goals and Recommendationss on Participation of Women, (4) Investment Ethics, (5) School Busing, and (6) Use of Reclaimed Paper. In none of those is the founding of RCRC or any other organization dealing with abortion mentioned.

Now, what is the United Methodist Church's official stand on abortion? To answer that question we must turn to the Discipline, not the actions of even a group like a General Board.

The following are ALL the references to abortion that can be found in our most recent Discipline as produced by the 2008 General Conference:
162 K) PopulationSince the growing worldwide population is increasingly straining the worlds supply of food, minerals, and water and sharpening international tensions, the reduction of the rate of consumption of resources by the affluent and the reduction of current world population growth rates have become imperative.

People have the duty to consider the impact on the total world community of their decisions regarding childbearing and should have access to information and appropriate means to limit their fertility, including voluntary sterilization.

We affirm that programs to achieve a stabilized population should be placed in a context of total economic and social development, including an equitable use and control of resources; improvement in the status of women in all cultures; a human level of economic security, health care, and literacy for all. We oppose any policy of forced abortion or forced sterilization.
162 O) Genetic TechnologyThe responsibility of humankind to Gods creation challenges us to deal carefully with the possibilities of genetic research and technology. We welcome the use of genetic technology for meeting fundamental human needs for health, a safe environment, and an adequate food supply. We oppose the cloning of humans and the genetic manipulation of the gender of an unborn child.

Because of the effects of genetic technologies on all life, we call for effective guidelines and public accountability to safeguard against any action that might lead to abuse of these technologies, including political or military ends. We recognize that cautious, well-intended use of genetic technologies may sometimes lead to unanticipated harmful consequences.Human gene therapies that produce changes that cannot be passed to offspring (somatic therapy) should be limited to the alleviation of suffering caused by disease.

Genetic therapies for eugenic choices or that produce waste embryos are deplored. Genetic data of individuals and their families should be kept secret and held in strict confidence unless confidentiality is waived by the individual or by his or her family, or unless the collection and use of genetic identification data is supported by an appropriate court order. Because its long-term effects are uncertain, we oppose genetic therapy that results in changes that can be passed to offspring (germ-line therapy).
And most importantly:
161 J) Abortion--The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life make sus reluctant to approve abortion.

But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.

We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We support parental, guardian, or other responsible adult notification and consent before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood. We cannot affirm abortions as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection.

We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. Before providing their services, abortion providers should be required to offer women the option of anesthesia.

We call all Christians to a seraching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may cause them to consider abortion.

The Church shall offer ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth.
Some will see in the above that the UMC does indeed support abortion as a legal option when the conflict of life with life may justify it, i.e. in the event of the pregnancy putting the life of the mother at risk.

Others will see in the above that the UMC does not support abortion as an acceptable means for either birth control or for the purpose of gender selection.

And still others won't even look at our official statements and will simply see what they want to see in groups that may bear the United Methodist name, but that don't actually speak for nor represent the denomination as a whole.As for the Free Methodist Church, the following represents their official stance:
A/331.2 Abortion.
The intentional destruction of human life is murder when any degree of malice or selfishness accompanies the decision and act. Therefore, induced abortion is morally unjustifiable except when the act has been decided upon by responsible and competent persons, including Christian and professional counsel, for the purpose of saving the life of a pregnant woman.

Abortion, when it serves the ends of population or birth control, personal preference of convenience, and social or economic security, must be considered as selfish and malicious. Therefore, the intentional abortion of nascent life from conception on, except when extreme circumstances requires termination of a pregnancy to save the life of the pregnant woman, must be judged to be a violation of God's command, "You shall not commit murder."

We recommend that Free Methodists offer compassionate alternatives and long-term care to women considering abortion. We recommend similar long-term care for all persons impacted by previous abortions. We also urge continuing support for those involved in parenting and in the adoption and fostering of children.

While firmly opposed to abortion, we recognize that those whose views contrary to ours should be treated with respect and dignity and that God's forgiveness is offered to all.
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Unread 24th July 2011, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Romans Road View Post
It states on the UMC website that they are a founding member of teh RCRC.
Show me the link, please.

-----edit-------

Never mind. I found it:

It appears that a resolution to the 2004 General Conference passed which had as one of its "whereas" statments: "WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church was a founding member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in 1973, and"

And further had as the substance of the resolution:
Therefore, be it resolved, that the United Methodist 2004 General Conference go on record in support of the work of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and

Be it further resolved, that the 2004 General Conference affirm the continued membership of the General Board of Church and Society and the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Well, I still assert that despite the poor wording of this resolution, the truth is that the United Methodist Church was not a founder member for all the reasons I've already stated above. But that seems to be neither here nor there now, as I see that in 2004 the resolution did pass.

I'm sure that there were those who voted for that resolution not to support abortion but to support other forms of reproductive choice. But I will now concede this is just one more case of the United Methodist Church speaking out of both sides of its mouth with regard to social issues. ::::


They allow the Religious Institute to state that the United Methodist Church supports them. They allow the RCRC to state the same. Official statements mean nothing when they START an abortion organization. If it was a group within the church then they should face church discipline for supporting the killing of innocent children.
I wish that we could discipline a group, but we cannot. We can only discipline individuals. The Board of Church and Society has been taken to task recently for making it seem that the UMC was in support of homosexuality in that they were planning to sponor a march in Washington, D.C. and lend the name of the Church to it. Enough opposition was raised that they backed down from that. But there was nothing that the denomination could have done to discipline them if they had gone ahead. This is so even though our Discipline is clearly states that while we see all persons as being of sacred worth that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

On more than one occassion it has been suggested that we need to take away funding from the Board of Church and Society, but because we really want to encourage the church to be involved in society we continue to fund it, imperfect though it is in the leadership it provides.
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Unread 24th July 2011, 04:24 AM
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I am not UMC, so I really do not have a dog in this hunt, and, ....... I am a born-again Christian of Wesleyan doctrinal beliefs, so:

Satan will place people into our midst in positions of leadership to water down our commitment to right and true. Not right as in left and right, right as in true and false.

Such is the nature of all Christian organizations, called denominations these days. Whether it be Oral Roberts calling out for millions of dollars or GOD will take him home, or Jimmy Swaggart and his liaisons with pornography and women of ill-repute, or a young man in Norway that frequented fundamental Christian websites before he slaughtered 90 some of his countrymen, women, and children.

All of Satan's work on this earth is intended to bring confusion and disillusionment upon the unsaved and give them a tainted view of Christ and His sacrifice for everyone who will accept it, so that those who do not understand, continue to not understand and fail to come to Christ as Savior and Lord.

We must continually guard ourselves and our denominations against these internal attacks by Satan. We must speak out most loudly when it is our leadership that is mistaken or out and out wrong in their positions.

Be blessed,
Lee52
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Unread 25th July 2011, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Qyt27 View Post
...If they formed out of the Methodist Church, South, then the Free Methodists likely also split because they were abolitionists. ...
Wait, so what is the Methodist Church, South? Is that the same as the Southern Methodist Church? There's a congregation of that denomination near by and I've never known what the difference was there.
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"In [the daily office], the Church, the Bride of Christ, whispers words of love to her spouse and, schooled in the mystery of Christ's life, death, and resurrection, fulfils the very purpose of His Incarnation, taught as she is by Christ, the Unique Cantor, the arts of perfect sacrifice and praise."
-Dom Cuthbert Brogan, OSB
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