To put it in simple terms, we are a group of people who believe that everyone has been called to love God, to love others and to generously serve the world.
We think of ourselves as pretty ordinary, friendly people. We live in the surrounding community of Harrowsmith, Ontario and Kingston. We are singles, young families, empty nesters and retirees. Our ages range from babies a few weeks old to seniors, and everything in between. We are a mix of personalities with a variety of interests and occupations.
Some can’t remember a time when they didn’t believe and some are just beginning to explore faith. Some have been part of this church most or all of their lives and some have just started attending in the recent past.
But what we all have in common is this place feels like home. It’s a place where you can belong, where people know your face and name, are happy to see you and truly want to get to know how you’re doing. A place where you can count on a listening ear, a prayer and a cup of coffee. A place where you are welcome just as you are.
Harrowsmith Church is part of the Free Methodist Church in Canada (FMCiC) denomination. 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.
If you would like to learn more, you can read the documents that focus on our Core Values and Articles of Religion from the FMCic’s website.