What is a Free Methodist?
The Free Methodist Church was born in 1860 during the national debate over the abolition of slavery, just prior to the beginning of the Civil War. A small group of Methodist Episcopal pastors were essentially expelled from the church because of their views on abolition (they were in favor of it), and subsequently banded together to form the Free Methodist Church, in order to address this and other freedom-related issues. For example, it was common in that day for a church to rent pews out to those who could afford the better seats--the ones closer to the pulpit, and the ones that were in heated areas of the church. The Free Methodists believed this kind of partiality (which gave preferential treatment to the wealthier members of the congregation) was wrong. The Free Methodists also believed in freedom and simplicity in worship; freedom from secrecy in church polity (they were against “secret societies” whose members could make church decisions privately, in secret meetings of those organizations, with no accountability to their church congregation); freedom of lay persons (i.e., those who were not members of the clergy) to have a role in leading and making decisions in the church; and freedom from the grip of materialism, in order to provide assistance to the poor. Free Methodists also allowed women to be ordained as elders (pastors) long before many other denominations.
Free Methodists are committed to the Great Commission of Matthew 28: to go into all the world and make disciples of Christ. The mission of the Lawrence Free Methodist Church is “to be a Christ-centered church, making more and better disciples.” In other words, we want more people to come to know Christ personally, to experience his forgiveness and to be welcomed into his kingdom, and we want to help those people continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and ultimately to be involved in the ongoing work of disciple-making.
What we believe
There are five “distinctive principles” that are emphasized in and help to characterize the people called Free Methodists:
Scriptural Holiness: We believe the Bible (Old and New Testaments) is the standard for matters of faith and life. We believe in living according to the principles and standards taught in the Bible, always motivated by Christian love.
Practical Godliness: We believe that our talk should match our walk, so to speak, which means that we encourage lifestyles that mirror what we say we believe.
Social Concern: We believe that just as Jesus showed compassion and care for the poor and oppressed, so we also must be devoted to service and compassion for human need, both in our neighborhoods and around the world.
Christian Education: Free Methodists have always valued Christian Education, and our denomination is affiliated with six Christian colleges and one seminary. Locally, we invest time and resources in providing meaningful Christian education for our children, through Sunday morning and midweek programs.
Evangelism and Foreign Missions: Free Methodists are actively involved in local, one-on-one evangelism, church planting, and a variety of foreign missions efforts and missionaries. LFMC, for example, supports three Free Methodist missionary families, in the Philippines, in Colombia, and in a "creative access" country. Through our affiliation with Kids Alive, we are involved in ongoing work to rescue children at risk in Haiti.
The Free Methodist Church is an evangelical church in the Wesleyan-Arminian theological tradition.