Evangelical Methodist Church History

Evangelical Methodist Church History

•In comparison with other denominations the Evangelical Methodist Church is a young denomination.  The roots of our denomination stretch back to the early Methodist movement of John Wesley.  The Evangelical Methodist Church still holds to the historic form of religious expression which flourished and bore fruit in 18th century England.  Many historians have credited this religious expression as having saved England from a violent and bloody civil war.  Dr. James H. Nichols of Princeton Theological Seminary said, “…it was the most important ecclesiastical development in Protestantism since Puritanism.”

•In September 1725, John Wesley graduated from Oxford University and was ordained a priest in the Church of England.  Trained in theology, Biblical languages and the classics, he was still trying to find out who God really was and attempting to save himself through good works.

•Wesley went to America as a missionary and spent some time in Georgia preaching.  In his journal he wrote, “I went to America to convert the Indians; but oh, who shall convert me?”  Wesley returned to England and on May 24, 1738 in a church meeting on Aldersgate Street in London, he found the peace  for which he had been longing.  He wrote, “I felt my heart strangely warmed.  I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

•Wesley began to preach and teach the doctrine of justification by faith.  He began to challenge all of England to give their hearts and lives to Christ and experience full salvation from sin.  Wesley was an ordained priest in the Church of England and a teaching fellow at Oxford, thus the pulpits of the entire church were open to him!  But soon church after church began to close to him under orders from the Bishops of England who opposed him.  Wesley began to preach in the streets and fields and the gospel message spread at a rapid pace.  A revival had begun.

•People who were converted were placed in nurturing classes to help them learn the basics of Christianity.  These classes were called ‘societies’ and soon they became known as “Methodists” because of the methodical way Wesley had them organized.  While Wesley received many requests from his followers to break from the Church of England, it was not until 1780, eleven years before his death that he began to train lay leaders.  That decision and action was the beginning of “Methodism.”

•In America, Methodism enjoyed various degrees of success, although after a time there began to develop a growing trend toward liberalism.  There was a denial of original sin, denial of the necessity of ‘conversion’ to Christ, questions about the authority and validity of Scripture itself, and other like questions that began to have an adverse effect upon Methodism.

•Within the Methodist Church there have been various attempts at renewal and reform.  Sometimes those efforts led to church splits and the emergence of new denominations which attempted to recapture the revival spirit of early Methodism.

•The Evangelical Methodist Church came into being on May 9th, 1946 in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. J.H. Hamblen was elected chairman of the meeting in Memphis and as the first General Superintendent at the organizational conference in November of that year.

•This small group of pastors and laymen were deeply troubled by the denial of a great many of the foundational doctrines of the church, such as the Virgin Birth of Christ, the deity of Christ,  the  inspiration of the Scriptures,  the miracles recorded in the Bible, the denial of the necessity of the “new birth,”  and the doctrine of sanctification.  After long discussions and longer hours in prayer, these pastors and laymen felt led of God to organize an evangelical Methodist Church which later became its name.

•In regard to the emphasis of the new organization, the minutes of the meeting in Memphis on May 9, 1946 read as follows:

•J.H. Hamblen made a statement relative to the form of government and doctrines of the organization. Three things were emphasized: the need for a congregational form of government with sufficient supervision to make it connectional; the need of sound doctrine; and the need of evangelistic passion.

•In praying for the new movement, Dr. Hamblen prayed: “Oh, Lord, if this movement be of Thy will, bless and prosper it; but, Lord, if not of Thy will, then let it die here and now.”

•Dr. Ezequiel B. Vargas was at that first Annual Conference.  Dr. Vargas was the Superintendent of the Mexican Evangelistic Mission.  He proposed that this great work become a part of the Evangelical Methodist Church.  His proposal was accepted.  In 1957 Dr. Vargas was elected by the General Conference to preside as General Superintendent over the first Mexican Mission Conference.

•On June 4, 1960, the Evangel Church, Inc. founded by Dr. William Kirby and Dr. Cornelius P. Haggard, voted to unite with the Evangelical Methodist Church.  Two years later, on July 3, 1962, the General Conference of the Evangelical Methodist Church voted to merge with the People’s Methodist Church, whose presiding General Superintendent at the time of the merger was the Rev. Dr. J. Neal Anderson.  These two mergers, the Evangel Church, Inc., from the west coast, and the People’s Methodist church from the east coast, brought together a truly national denomination with a growing missions work in Mexico.

•Evangelical Methodist Missions expanded its outreach in 1979 with the Bolivian Evangelistic Mission.  Missionary outreach in this Latin American field includes both medical and aviation ministries along with church planting and church growth.  This work is being conducted in both the highlands of the Andes and the vast agricultural and jungle regions of the country.

•Today the sun never sets on an EMC church -meaning that we now have churches through-out the world and growing.

• The Evangelical Methodist Church:

•Our History and Commitment by Dr. Brian C. Donley and Reverend Jack W. Wease