Harrowsmith Church is a part of the Free Methodist Church in Canada (FMCiC), but what exactly is a “FREE Methodist”?
To tell you the truth, our list of beliefs likely won’t look much different from any number of Evangelical churches you might have heard of, but what distinguishes us a little bit, is our emphasis on the word “free”.
Historically, our denomination was formed in 1860 because we felt strongly about a few key issues. For one, Free Methodists stood against slavery in America at a time when slavery was socially accepted and the issue was being ignored by other churches. Another issue at the time was that some churches allowed people to pay for or rent their seats, often meaning that a rich person would get the best seat in the house, while a poor person would have to sit on a bench at the back of the church. Free Methodists stood against this kind of elitism. Free Methodists also emphasized freedom in worship, balking against “stifling formality”. In other words, they didn’t want church to be like a stuffy library.
Today, our emphasis continues to be on freedom. One of our pastors describes our denomination this way: “The FMCiC maintains a strong but simple statement of faith on the imperatives, and flexibility on those things that are side issues”
Some churches have “distinctives” when it comes to their values or beliefs. What this means is that, while we’re all in agreement on major beliefs, some denominations have a unique stance on things that Free Methodists prefer not to squabble over. We don’t sweat the “small stuff”. For example, some churches have very specific doctrinal statements on the order of end time events, but we leave it more open to interpretation. While some churches today still believe that women should not be pastors or in positions of spiritual leadership, the Free Methodist church allows both men and women to serve as pastors.