Czech Bible Society
Czech Evangelical Alliance
Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic
THE EVANGELICAL METHODIST CHURCH
Methodists profess their adherence to the legacy of both world and Czech reformation.
The beginnings of the Metodist movement date back to the first half of the 18th century in England. John Wesley, an Anglican minister and teacher at the Oxford University, experienced a spiritual “awakening“ in May of 1738 and in that spirit he began to preach in his church. On the one hand he met with enthusiasm, which gave rise to a new movement, on the other hand the reactions of his opposers resulted in the imposition on a ban on his activity on the precincts of the Anglican Church. For the Czech Christianity it is interesting and important that it was missionaries from Herrnhut´s “Unitas Fratrum“ who opened Wesley´s spiritual sight for full biblical Christianity. There was great affection between Wesley and the Herrnhut Unity. He started to form groups of people who had spiritually awakened under his influence and ministry. They were mostly people coming from a socially weak class, people of low position or from problem families. He used to choose one person among the members of each group to minister and help the others to meet with the people, read the Bible with them and pray with them.
As Wesley was an excellent organiser and understood the needs of his time as well as individuals, he founded an organisation which went down in history as the Methodist Church. The name itself was older than the movement. Originally it was a pejorative name to denote a group of students of the Oxford University who used to meet long before 1738 – first under the guidance of Charles Wesley, later of John Wesley. They devoted themselves to systematic, “methodical“, reading of the Holly Scriptures (in original), classical Greek authors and to prayers or private talks. Most of the members of this circle later worked in the revival movement. Wesley himself never worked out any “method of salvation“. He conceived his work as mission within the Anglican Church, whose adherent he remained till the end of his life and considered himself an Anglican minister. The ban of preaching and ministry as well as the interdiction of the administration of the sacraments to Methodists made him ordain his first co-workers for the ministry and mission in America. This was how this movement has gradually separated from the Anglican Church. In the Anglo-Saxon world a new church community then emerged very fast and with it the mission spread into many countries of all continents.
In Czechoslovakia, the Methodist Church started its work after the World War I by a number of lectures on biblical themes, the evangelisation, spreading Bibles, and by social aid. At first it was in Prague and in the places in which there was no lively activity of other Evangelical churches, later also in other areas including Slovakia. All financial support was coming from the American Methodist Church. It also sent first preachers (Czechs who had been active in the U. S. A.) to Czechoslovakia, in return for the blessings, which it had accepted from Moravian Brethren in the past.
It was characteristic for Wesley´s ministry that he was not only preaching wherever he was, but that his preaching was always connected with social work. This is what the Methodist Church stresses even today: evangelisation and social work.
When the church was established, “25 Articles of Faith“, selected out of 39 Articles of Faith of the Anglican Church were accepted. Wesley wrote for his groups “Common Rules“, which have been used by the church up today. Among the “Important Teachings of Methodism“ are: general redemption (Christ´s sacrifice is for all people), repentance (is a means – faith is a condition of salvation), justification from faith, the need for rebirth, the testimony of the Holy Spirit (of my being a God´s child), sanctity and the blessing of the life, the possibility of final apostasy (we cannot be sure forever).
The structure of the church consists in the system of conferences, their members being always ministers and lay persons who are equally represented. The parish conference, which involves one or more congregations and their extensions, organises work on local level and sends its delegates to Annual Meetings. An Annual Meeting is a basic unit of the church and it takes place every year. Several Annual Meetings are associated into the Central Conference (in the U. S. A. the Jurisdiction Conference), headed by an elected bishop. The session takes place once in a four-year period. Each Annual Conference has its representation at the General Conference, which takes place in leap years and has a maximum of one thousand delegates.
At present the Evangelical Methodist Church in the Czech Republic and in Slovak Republic are one common Annual Meeting, which within Europe belongs to the Central Conference in Central and South Europe. The seat of its Bishop is in Zurych in Switzerland. In head of the Annual Meeting in the Czech and the Slovak Republics is a superintendent, who is appointed by the Bishop. After the splitting of Czechoslovakia two Regional Conferences were established: one in the Czech Republic and the other in the Slovak Republic. They are headed by Regional Councils (with equal representation of ministers and lays) with their chairpersons.
Among the activities of congregations are Sunday worship, meetings over the Bible, meetings of children, young people, sisters, and choir rehearsals, but also meetings of small groups (classes). Recently in summer “tent evangelisation“ has taken place with the support of the German Methodist Zeltmission. At several places congregations take part in prison chaplaincy.
The Diaconia Organization of the Evangelical Methodist Church is a member of the Diaconia in the Czech Republic. Currently there are two centres of Christian aid and one consultation center for drug addicts and drug prevention (Teen Challenge), which have good working results. In addition the church pays special attention to the education of lays. All this contributes to the spiritual development of individuals and congregations.
The Evangelical Methodist Church is a member of a number of international gremiums, either directly or by proxy through the Central Conference. It is also a member of ecumenical gremiums.
Some of present preachers went through their theological studies at theological faculties. At present some others study at other theological colleges or training centers. There are a number of ministers in the church who have achieved their qualification in the church´s internal courses. The door for lay workers in the church are open wide.
The EMC issues the magazine Slovo a život (Word and World).
The World Methodist Council incorporates 90 separate churches in 63 countries of the world, in all continents, the total number of its members being 50 million.
In the Czech Republic this church has 17 parishes and it holds its regular meetings at 36 places. In the congregations are about 1800 active members and friends.
The Evangelical Methodist Church