"To maintain the Bible standard of Christianity, and to preach the Gospel to the poor.”
The words are so simple we can miss their punch. These are the words of B.T. Roberts and the first Free Methodists as they founded the new denomination in 1860. Since that time we have embraced the following five freedoms:
Freedom of all races to worship and live together. The FMC were and are abolitionists. We worked for the freedom of the slaves in 1860 and participated in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. We formed abolitionist groups to free the slaves in our own nation and we have created an abolitionist movement today to set slaves free throughout the world.
Freedom of the poor to be treated with dignity in the church and in the world. The FMC ended the practice of requiring the poor to sit in the “free pews” at the back of the sanctuary and made all pews “free.” This commitment to leave socio-economic distinctions and prejudices outside the sanctuary and invite all people into true fellowship and acceptance is an ongoing commitment of our church.
Freedom of women to be treated equal in the church, at home and in the world. The FMC ordains women to serve in the church and teaches equality in marriages. In harmony with a long tradition of equal opportunity for women to serve in the church from the days of the early church meeting in house to today’s recognition that God calls and gifts women as well as men to serve His church, we affirm God’s call and equip God’s leaders to serve.
Freedom of the laity to be given authority and decision-making positions within the church. The FMC ended the clergy domination of the church and opened up a consistent partnership with clergy and laity working together to do God’s work. This elevation of laity to use their spiritual gifts alongside those given pastoral gifts enriches all aspects of life in the church and protects against institutional abuse.
Freedom of the Holy Spirit in worship. The FMC gives freedom to each local congregation to follow the Spirit’s leading on how they worship. Some Free Methodist Churches worship in liturgical style with daily office, while others worship in charismatic style with praise choruses. A few have taken this freedom to create a blended style of worship that brings together a community of people of all ages and creates a family of God that accepts both sacramental liturgy and the Christian year as well the most recent of praises choruses and prayer services. Worship includes not only the music of praise and the study of Scripture but also the sharing of life in community.