Articles

Sep 25 2018

Pastor Mike at Aztec Methodist Church

In 1910 a World Missionary Conference was held in which missionaries from numerous denominations appealed for more cooperation and less fighting between the various families of Christianity. They cited numerous instances in which non-Christians were repelled by squabbles among Christians, who proclaimed that the body of Christ was to love one another. The sentiment was, “When you don’t live up to Christ’s command to love, how can we believe anything else you say.”

In Britain the move for reuniting the church came to the Methodists as in 1907 the Methodist New Connexion, the Bible Christians and the United Methodist Free Church came together to form the United Methodist Church.

The Methodist Episcopal (ME) and Methodist Episcopal South (MES) continued slowly moving toward a reunion. They moved from separate committees working jointly to a Joint Commission on Federation, which in 1916 became a Joint Commission on Unification. They developed a plan for unification, which was rejected by the General Conferences of each denomination, but were told, “Keep working on it.”

In 1919 the ME and MES held a joint celebration of the centennial of the Mission Society. They had pledge campaigns that brought in a total of $150 million in pledges to support missionaries, and the celebration that followed drew more than a million people to gather in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1922 eight years of effort brought the Evangelical Association and the United Evangelical Church back together as the Evangelical Church. In 1924 the General Conferences of both the ME and the MES approved a plan of union. It then went to the Annual Conferences for approval. Most of the AC’s approved it, but not the ¾ of Conferences in each denomination it would have taken for the plan to be implemented.

In 1925 in Canada Methodists and members of a number of other denominations joined to form the United Church of Canada. Among the three largest denominations Methodists (mainly aligned with the British Methodist church), Presbyterians and Congregationalists, many of the churches in small towns had already formed Union Congregations, so it was almost a non event in rural areas. Many United Brethren congregations joined the United Church, but not all. Those who stayed out remained a part of the United Brethren Church based in the US. Similarly among the Presbyterians 302 out of the 4500 Presbyterian congregations voted to remain as the Presbyterian Church of Canada.

In 1930 the Methodist Protestants asked to join in the continuing merger talks between the ME and the MES. A separate effort to unite the German Heritage churches fell through. This would have combined the United Brethren Church, the Evangelical Church, the Reformed Church in the US, and the Evangelical Synod of North America.

In Britain, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Primitive Methodist church and the United Methodist church came together to form The Methodist Church in 1932. There is still a small denomination in Britain known as the Independent Methodist Connexion.

If the 19th century had been a time of church splits, the 20th century had become a time of re-unification, though the reunification sometimes took much longer than splitting apart had done.