The Methodist Church in Malaysia reflects in large part the multi-ethnicity and cultures of the country. Although the first Methodist Church was set up in Singapore, there are now churches all over Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. Through the years the outreach of the Methodist Church has involved evangelism, education and social ministry. Often the work has been conducted along separate linguistic lines because of the diversity of the population.
The Methodist Churches in Malaysia
The Methodist Church comprises six Annual Conferences and one Mission Conference established within some of the main ethic groups in the country. Geographically it covers most of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. It has a membership of almost 160,000 adults and children, making it one of the largest Protestant churches in Malaysia.
The Methodist Church is also involved in public and private education. It runs 68 public primary and secondary schools and 5 private schools. Besides that, it runs 2 private colleges, Methodist College Kuala Lumpur and Institute Methodist Pilley in Sibu. It is also involved in theological training through the Methodist Theological School, Sibu and Seminari Theoloji Malaysia in Seremban. And it provides many needed social services through the local churches and Annual Conference organisations.
Mission outreach has grown. Malaysian Methodist mission work is focused on South and South East Asia, working in partnership with local churches in Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal. Missionaries have also been sent to other regions of the world.
The Methodist Church manages several retreat centres – the Methodist Centennial Cheefoo Centre in Cameron Highlands, the Methodist Bungalow in Fraser’s Hill, the Methodist Centre in Port Dickson, the Best in Maxwell Hill, and the Centennial Park in Sibu.
The Methodist Church and Annual Conferences publish their won regular news magazines – the Pelita Methodist, Berita TAC, Berita TRAC, Southern Bell (CAC), the Chinese Methodist Message and Connection (SCAC).
The Growth of Methodism in Malaysia
William F. Oldham and James M. Thoburn (later Bishop) from the South Indian Conference arrive in Singapore. The first Methodist church is set up with Oldham as the pastor.
Tamil and Chinese works begin in Singapore.
The work is extended to the Malayan Peninsular beginning in Penang through the Anglo-Chinese School.
The work becomes a Mission Conference under the General Conference of the Episcopal Methodist Church, USA.
Vernacular work is started in the Peninsular. The first Tamil congregation is established in Penang.
The first Hokkien speaking congregation is established in Penang. Work begins in Perak.
Foo Chow Methodists arrive from China to settle in Sibu, Sarawak under the leadership of Wong Nai Siong.
The Mission Conference becomes the Malaya Annual Conference (MAC) covering Peninsular Malaya and Singapore.
Work to the indigenous Sengois in Peninsular Malaya begins.
The Malaysia Chinese Mission Conference is formed. In 1942 it becomes the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) and is formally recognised by the General Conference, USA in 1948.
Work begins among the indigenous Ibans in Sarawak.
The Sarawak Mission Conference (SMC) is formed.
The Sarawak Iban Provisional Annual Conference is organised and the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference (SCAC) is established.
The Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore becomes autonomous although still affiliated to the United Methodist Church, USA.
The Methodist Church in Malaysia and the Methodist Church in Singapore become separate entities. The Methodist Church in Malaysia comprises the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC), Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference (SCAC), Sarawak Iban Annual Conference (SIAC), Tamil Annual Conference (TAC) and Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC).
SCAC extends work to Sabah.
The Sengoi Mission Conference (SMC) is formed under TRAC.
The Sabah Provisional Annual Conference (SPAC) is formed.