Congregations that have formed outside of Free Methodist Church sponsorship and wish to become part of the denomination may enter as affiliated churches. The board of administration or a nearby Free Methodist Church will serve as their sponsoring agency.
1. The director of church planting, with the concurrence of the board of administration, may recognize a congregation as an affiliated church when:
- The congregation applying for affiliation has completed a diagnostic viability study.
- At least 12 members of the congregation have been adequately prepared through membership instruction to become members of the Free Methodist Church.
- These members of the congregation give joint public assent to the adoption of The Manual of The Free Methodist Church in Canada and answer the questions for membership individually. (See questions in ¶384A.)
- A certificate of agreement prepared by The Free Methodist Church in Canada has been signed by the pastor, the members of the congregation, the bishop (or a designee) as a representative of the board of administration. This document shall indicate that the pastor(s) and members of the affiliating congregation have given joint public assent to the adoption of The Manual of The Free Methodist Church in Canada. The board of administration may enter into any legal agreements that are deemed necessary to facilitate the affiliation. (See certificate sample in ¶384B.)
- The affiliating church has been approved by Canada Revenue Agency as a charitable organization under the terms of the Income Tax Act.
- The affiliating church shall obtain Trade-Mark License/Association Agreements from The Free Methodist Church in Canada. (See ¶301.1)
2. The pastor or lay leader of the affiliated church shall be accountable to the director of church planting and the conference. Together they shall guide the congregation toward becoming a Free Methodist society. The pastor or lay leader shall provide periodic written reports of progress and needs for further guidance to the director of church planting.
3. The affiliated church may receive adult and youth members
4. The members of the affiliated congregation shall elect an official board of no fewer than three members with officers as outlined in ¶320.2.3 and provide for such additional organizational structures as are needed to administer its ministry programs. (See ¶325 for guidance.)
5. An affiliated congregation shall hold and disburse its own funds. It shall provide the conference with a copy of its annual financial
6. An affiliated congregation is encouraged to financially support conference and denominational ministries as a first step toward full participation in these financial responsibilities. (See ¶375.3.2).
7. An affiliated congregation that owns property need not incorporate the denomination’s trust clause outlined in ¶385 into its deed until the time of recognition as a society. Any financial assistance provided by the denomination to affiliated congregations for the acquisition or improvement of real property shall be in the form of mortgages or loans repayable immediately if the church does not choose to become a Free Methodist society.
8. Non-Free Methodist pastors of affiliated congregations may not join the denominational pension plan until they are approved by the ministerial education guidance and placement committee to transfer their credentials to the conference. They may then join the benefit program at their discretion, and with the approval of their official board.
9. An affiliated congregation shall be granted an honorary membership in the general conference. Its delegate(s) is entitled to an honorary seat, with a voice, but without a vote.
10. An affiliated congregation shall remain in this relationship for no longer than three years without the consent of the board of administration.
11. If the congregation wishes to withdraw from its relationship with The Free Methodist Church in Canada, it may do so after providing appropriately for:
- Transfer of its members into a newly organized congregation or provision of letters of membership transfer to any members wishing to withdraw.
- Documentation cancelling any affiliation or other legal agreements with The Free Methodist Church in Canada, and termination of any Trademark License Agreement granted to it.
12. Society Status
12.1 The director of church planting, in consultation with the board of administration, may recognize an affiliated congregation as a Free Methodist society when:
- It has developed a mission statement and plan that is in harmony with the denomination.
- It has sufficient members, maturity and financial stability to function in this relationship.
- Its members have given approval to join with The Free Methodist Church as a society
12.2 At the time of becoming a society, the affiliated congregation must revise its deeds to real property to include the denomination’s trust clause provided in ¶385.
12.3 The board of administration may provide a phased plan to bring new societies into full participation in conference and denominational financial responsibilities as soon as possible. (See 375.3.3)