Methodism reached the Caribbean (Antigua) in 1760, almost a quarter of a century later, devout Methodists (many of them former slaves) migrated from America to the Bahamas as "Loyalists". By the late 1790's, Anthony Wallace, the administrator of the early Methodists in the Bahamas, requested Dr. Thomas Coke to appoint a Minister to the Bahamas. Referring to the records of the Methodist Missionary Society in England, Colbert Williams in his book: The Methodist Contribution to "the Bahamas" states: "In 1799 the British Methodist Conference meeting in Manchester decided to station William Turton, a white Barbadian, in the Bahamas. He landed at Nassau on 22nd October, 1800."[Page 35]
There was much excitement in the Methodist Church throughout the Caribbean and Latin America in 1960 - when the bicentennial of Nathaniel Gilbert taking Wesley's message to Antigua was celebrated. The Bahamas joined the celebrations, as a precursor to its own bicentennial that would come forty years later. It was decided that Methodism in the Caribbean, the Americas" (meaning South and Central America) and the Bahamas was mature and ready for autonomy. The Bahamas was hesitant, having little in common with many of the territories of the Caribbean and Latin America. In 1967, the MCCA was granted autonomy from the British Conference with full financial support. The Bahamas District did not join the MCCA at this time and voted to reconsider at a later stage. But by 1968, the Bahamas joined the new Conference. Within a few years, it was obvious that the new Conference was not structured for mission, and a committee was set up to make proposals for the restructuring of the Church for mission.
This process came to an abrupt and unexplained halt, in 1989. The Bahamas/Turks & Caicos Islands District, by memorial from the 1990 Synod, asked why? The answer was not satisfactory to the District. At the same time, a candidate for ministry from the Bahamas District was turned down on technicalities. No candidate from the Bahamas had been accepted for many years. The Circuit from which the candidate had come (Abaco) brought a Resolution for autonomy to the 1991 Synod, and like the say "the rest is history". It is to be noted that this "unilateral declaration of autonomy" spurred the MCCA into a reconsideration of the need for greater autonomy in their Districts, which was granted to the eight Districts of the MCCA in 1997 - six years after the birth of the BCMC.
Following the 1991 Synod, historic in that it was held in Rock Sound, Eleuthera (Eleuthera was the site of the first Synod of Methodists in the Bahamas), the Bahamas District of the Methodist Church begun to walk the road to becoming an autonomous Methodist Church. Many meetings followed. When a vote was taken at the 1991 Synod in Rock Sound, the results were 43 For and 23 Against.
The Synod also recommended that the matter be discussed in the local Churches and that a special Synod be held on 9th April, 1991 to resolve their report. At the Special Synod 75% of the delegates present voted for the Autonomy Resolution.
The Executive Steering Committee (ESC) was established and Dr. Colin Archer was elected to head the Committee. The Committee met frequently, reporting back to the Churches throughout the District. By now, it was clear to the ESC, that the majority of the Bahamian Methodist Churches and Members were ready to become an Autonomous Conference.
Prior to this, the MCCA appointed a Dialogue Committee which met in the Bahamas with the General Purpose Committee in July 1991. A proposal was made at this meeting for a period of self government, and an 11-point proposal was agreed which would come into effect on 1st September, 1991.
Months of struggle followed. Between July 1991 and January 1992, a state of impasse became evident and the path towards autonomy was headed for a separation into two groups, Methodist on the side of Autonomy (which formed the majority), and Methodist supporting the MCCA.
The Leadership of the Executive Steering Committee petitioned The Government for help in the matter. Following the passing of the Methodist Church Bill in the House of Parliament, the Uniting Conference was held at Ebenezer Methodist Church, Nassau, Bahamas on 30th July 1993. Thirty-two participating Methodist Churches were registered as Churches of the new Conference, (The Methodist Church of the Bahamas). Wesley, Grants Town was prohibited from joining as a participating Church because of a court injunction taken out by some members of their Trust.
The following persons were elected as the first Executive Officers of the BCMC, during the Plenary Session on Wednesday, 17th November, 1993 and were installed and consecrated at a special service the following evening at Ebenezer Methodist Church:
The foundational years of the BCMC were beset with court injunctions, legal battles and court cases. The legality and constitutionality of the Methodist Church Bill, passed in Parliament, were contested all the way to the Privy Council in London (2000). Throughout the legal process, the BCMC has been assured, time and time again of the presence of God and the determination of the Methodist people.
In 1995, Rev. Colin Archer resigned as President of the Conference. Rev. Charles A. Sweeting was elected to complete the one year left in Dr. Archer's tenure and was then elected for the consecutive three year tenure. He has also served in this capacity for an additional three years allowed by our Constitution.
At the 9th Annual Conference held in James' Cistern, Eleuthera in May 2002, Mrs. Kenris Carey was elected as President. An important milestone for Methodism in the Bahamas was reached when Mrs. Carey was elected as the first woman as well as the first layperson to serve as President, the highest office in the Conference.
We continue to celebrate the work and mission of the BCMC through hallmarks of Methodism in the Bahamas which include our Methodist hymns, our Youth Ministry and Youth Camps and our Education Programmes through Queen's College and St. Michael's Pre-school. New areas of ministry have come into effect with the autonomous Conference such as the management of the Bilney Lane Children's Home, Nurse Naomi Christie Home for the Aged, Hurricane/Disaster Relief, later to become Methodist Habitat, the training and licensing of Pastors, the training and ordaining of Ministers of Word and Sacraments. We celebrate increased relationships with the worldwide family of Methodism. Many exciting programmes have developed in partnership with CrossRoad United Methodist Church, Jacksonville, and with so many other United Methodist congregations throughout the continental United States.
The Methodist Church of the Bahamas was formed in July 1993 by an act of the Bahamas Parliament. For over 200 years"since 1800, our church was a part of the British Methodist Mission. In 1968 (one year later than the rest of the Caribbean Districts), The Bahamas District of Methodist Churches joined the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA). In 1967 the Methodist Churches in The Caribbean and some countries in Central America had been granted autonomy by the British Methodist Conference. In 1990, The Bahamas District of the Methodist Church passed a Resolution in its January District Synod to move for self governance and autonomy. This was realized in 1993.
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