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History of Methodism in the Philippines

Philippines Central Conference

The central conference of the Philippines today is comprised of three episcopal areas covering different parts of a country with more than 7,000 islands and 50 language groups.

In 1899, the Methodist Episcopal Church began its mission in the Philippines as an outpost of the Malaysia Annual Conference. In 1905, the work developed into the Philippine Islands Mission Conference and continued as a part of the central conference of Southern Asia with seven annual conferences in India, one in Malaysia, and one in the Philippines. Many Filipino leaders perceived the annual conference status as a form of annexation by U.S. leaders. In 1908-09, a first schism occurred and a minority group created the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (IEMELIF).

In 1912, one of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church for Southern Asia took residence in the Philippines, but this practice did not last for long. In 1933, a second schism occurred around judicial matters and a large minority group created the independent Philippine Methodist Church which became a founding member of the Evangelical Church in the Philippines in 1943.

The United Brethren began a mission in the Philippines in 1901 in cooperation with Presbyterians and Methodists in the Evangelical Union of the Philippine Islands, a federation joined by other denominations which agreed on the division of provinces. In 1929, the United Brethren joined the indigenous United Evangelical Church, which became part of the Evangelical Church in 1943 (1984: United Church of Christ in the Philippines).

In 1940, the first session of the Philippines Central Conference of the Methodist Church was held. Under strong pressure from the Japanese occupation, the central conference elected the first indigenous bishop in 1944. In the 1950s, the Methodist Church expanded its mission to Mindanao and other islands of the country. With the growth of the church, the 1960 General Conference authorized the election of a second bishop.

After 1968, debate continued in The United Methodist Church in the Philippines on choosing to become an autonomous church, an affiliated autonomous church or remaining within The United Methodist Church. This debate was heightened by the fact that all other Methodist churches in Asia had chosen autonomy and The United Methodist Church was still perceived as a U.S.-dominated church.

Source: History of The United Methodist Church in Asia. The United Methodist Church. (2019, September 27).