Free Methodist Church

Free Methodist Church

The Free Methodist church is rooted in the “Holiness Movement”/Methodist tradition.  In the 1850s, a group of pastors belonging to the US based Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC), began challenging the church for having “lost much of the spiritual and evangelistic fervor of [its] founding fathers.”

In 1860, the dissident pastors formally broke away and organized the Free Methodist Church (FMC).   The word “free” was chosen because the church was to be anti-slavery and believed in the freedom from congregational worship, freedom from payment of “pew rent,” and freedom from secret oath-bound societies (like the Freemasons).

The FMC organised its General Missionary Board in 1874. Missionaries arrived in South Africa in 1885.  Until the 1920’s, FMC missionaries alternated their services between South Africa and Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). In 1928, FMC received and invitation from Chief Sengwe in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  The first mission, Lundi, would not be built until 1939.

By 1970, there were 26 Free Methodist primary schools spread across the 8,500 square miles of the Nuanetsi (currently Mwenezi) District.  Administrative control of the Lundi schools passed to the government Ministry of Education in 1971. Missionaries were withdrawn in 1976 in response to the outbreak of guerrilla warfare.  Many Christian villages were destroyed.  In 1980, the people began to return and rebuild under the direction of the Free Methodist Church of Zimbabwe.

The FMC of Zimbabwe became a general conference in September 2004 (part of the Free Methodist World Conference).  There are approximately 30 Free Methodists churches today in Zimbabwe with total membership of 3,200.  Globally, the “Free Methodist family” includes over 1.5 million members in 88 countries.




  • Free Methodist and other missions in Zimbabwe – Tillman A. Houser
  • Mark Loomis