FREE METHODISM’S LIVING WITNESS: Sesquicentennial Reflections
Dr. Howard Snyder
Bishop L. R. Marston got it right when he named his 1960 centennial history “From Age to Age a Living Witness.” Free Methodism’s witness is still a living one, despite the amazing changes of the past one hundred fifty years. Our new age is the twenty-first century.
Today there are nineteen Free Methodist bishops throughout the world, and only four of them are North Americans. Worldwide Free Methodist growth has birthed a church where less than 10 percent of its approximately 900,000 members live in the United States and Canada (about 76,000 in the United States; 7,800 in Canada).
What would B. T. Roberts think? Certainly he would celebrate! This is what he would have wanted to see. Of course he would quickly ask: Is the church maintaining the Bible standard of Christianity? Is it preaching the gospel to the poor?
The growth of global Free Methodism truly is something to celebrate. Like most movements, Free Methodism is more dynamic at its growing edges than at its historic center. But signs of life are everywhere. Like a one-hundred-fifty-year-old tree, the FM Church grows mainly in its branches. Yet it still draws life from its roots and trunk, even as it is nourished by its branches. For continued health, the roots must grow ever deeper as the trunk grows sturdier.
Free Methodism’s roots go deep and far. We trust they are still nourished by Scripture, in good gospel ground.