We in the UK are part of the global Free Methodist Movement which currently ministers in over 80 countries worldwide.It was in the late 1960s that God began to speak to a number of Methodists in England about the need to establish a totally evangelical Methodist Church. The conviction grew when God spoke through Esther chapter 4 verse 14.
“If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place but you and your father’s family will perish and who knows but that you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this.”
These words, originally spoken by Mordecai to Queen Esther, came with such force and authority to those concerned about the drift into liberal theology that they felt compelled to respond. It was out of concern for the church and a desire to reach the next generation that the decision to establish the Free Methodist Church in England was taken. The first Free Methodist fellowship in England was organised in May 1971 at Heysham in Lancashire and was pastored by Rev Frank Mitchell. Another congregation was established at Winstanley, near Wigan and was pastored by Rev Ron Taylor. A group of three fellowships centred on Garstang, near Preston, was pastored by Rev J Barrie Walton and by the end of 1971 these five churches had a total of around 100 members.
Since that time the Free Methodist Church has continued to grow, so that we now have churches not only in the North West but also in the South West and Midlands, as well as Northern Ireland. We are part of the FMC in North America and the Bishop with oversight for the UK is Rev. David Roller.
The Rev J Barrie Walton, founding pastor of the Garstang, Great Eccleston, Crown Lane, Fulwood and Penwortham Free Methodist Churches, believes that God established the Free Methodist Church in England with a calling to be:
- Saturated with God
- True to the Scriptures
- Powerful in Prayer
- Led by the Holy Spirit
- Winning the Lost