The Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand ("the Wesleyan Methodist Church") cherishes its place in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church promised by God in the Scriptures, birthed in history through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, and empowered by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
We treasure the heritage of the Church through the ages and especially value our historical roots in the spiritual awakening in the 18th century when God raised up John and Charles Wesley. John Wesley (1703 – 1791) was an ordained minister of the Church of England, a graduate of Oxford University and an earnest seeker after inward holiness of heart as well as social transformation. On 24th May 1738 in Aldersgate Street, London, he "felt his heart strangely warmed" by the assurance of faith for his personal salvation.
The Wesleyan revival spread from England to America with the eventual formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1843 a group of Ministers and congregations left that denomination because of their own anti-slavery convictions and their preference for a more democratic form of government. They adopted the name “Wesleyan Methodist” and in 1881 the Church was a founder member of the World Methodist Council. The Wesleyan Church has continued to grow worldwide and now works in more than 70 countries through the Wesleyan World Fellowship.
The British Wesleyan Missionary Society established work in the Pacific, including a mission station in New Zealand at Whangaroa, Northland, in 1823. Then followed the work of three other branches of the Methodist family in New Zealand: in 1844 the Primitive Methodist Connexion; in 1860 the United Methodist Free Church and in 1887 the Bible Christians.
In 1854 the Wesleyan Methodist Missions in Australia, Van Diemen's Land, New Zealand, the Friendly Islands (Tonga) and Fiji, were formed into "The Australasian Wesleyan Methodist Connexion" and the first Conference was held in Sydney in January 1855. In 1874, a General Conference was formed with four annual Conferences, one of which comprised the European and "Native" work in New Zealand. The other branches of the Methodist family in New Zealand retained their direct links with their respective Conferences in England.
In 1896 the United Methodist Free Churches and the Bible Christians joined the Wesleyan Methodists, as part of the General Conference of the Methodist Church of Australasia. The New Zealand Conference became an independent National Conference on 1 January 1913. On 6 February 1913 the Primitive Methodist Church joined with the Wesleyan Methodist Church to form the Methodist Church of New Zealand. The Wesleyan name was not officially used again until the forming of the Wesleyan Methodist Movement in November 1997.
In the mid-20th century discussions with the Presbyterian, Anglican and Congregational Churches failed to achieve a united Church in New Zealand but resulted in a large number of towns and suburbs negotiating Union parishes or Co-operative Ventures. In the 1960's the Charismatic Movement saw many Methodists moving to evangelical and Pentecostal Churches, compounded by an increasing liberalisation of faith and practice in the Methodist church. This period of decline saw pluralism in theology, and a deepening disquiet among those who wished to uphold the Wesleyan distinctives, including the centrality of the full humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, His bodily resurrection, the truth of Scripture, scriptural holiness and assurance of faith. An extreme bi-cultural criteria became the benchmark of many decisions within the Methodist Church of New Zealand. Many evangelical Methodists sought a place of integrity in the Methodist Revival Fellowship, constituted in 1984 as a standing Committee of Conference as the Aldersgate Fellowship, and still later renamed as the AFFIRM movement. Finally, at Conference 1997 the discontent deepened with the "presenting issue" of accepting a practising homosexual minister to a senior Connexional appointment.
The Wesleyan Methodist Movement was soon formed to co-ordinate the work of evangelicals who could not live with the 1997 Conference decision. The Wesleyan Methodist Charitable Trust was incorporated in June 1998. The 1998 Conference agreed to form an Evangelical Synod "in principle" but the 1999 Conference did not implement it. Many moved to other denominations and several congregations left the Methodist church and formed the Grace Fellowships.
Several Samoan congregations patiently prayed for a way forward and felt called to form the Samoan Evangelical Wesleyan Methodist Church. This was inaugurated at a large gathering of people in Mangere, Auckland on the 16th January 2000.
On 18th March 2000 at a combined gathering at Trinity Methodist Church, Pakuranga, Auckland the Assistant National Superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia and others in his delegation, shared a vision of a renewed church that ignited the desire to form a Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand. With much prayer and joy this Church was inaugurated on the 2nd July 2000. The new Church included a Fijian congregation, a Rotuman congregation, a Mandarin-speaking congregation and a number of English-speaking congregations. Tongan congregations joined on 24th September 2000.
In November 2000 the first National Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand resolved to affiliate with the Wesleyan World Fellowship as a National Church in a Mission Field Partnership with the Australian Wesleyan Methodist Church.
In August 2012 the South Pacific Regional Conference of The Wesleyan Methodist Church was inaugurated in Brisbane, Australia having been approved by the North American General Conference and the International Conference of The Wesleyan Church. This Established Regional Conference is the first of its kind in The Wesleyan Church and brings together those bodies in the South Pacific that have originated in or have joined with The Wesleyan Church for the purpose of promoting holiness evangelism in the South Pacific in keeping with the mission of The Wesleyan Church, coordinating the activities of The Wesleyan Church in the South Pacific, addressing South Pacific concerns, promoting closer fellowship and mutual understanding, and providing a means for joint planning, consultation, co-operative action, fellowship, worship and generally celebrating together the collective witness among all units of The Wesleyan Church in the region. The Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand together with The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia, The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Bougainville and The Wesleyan Methodist Church of the Solomon Islands continues to act as an autonomous Member National Conference under the umbrella of the South Pacific Regional Conference of the Wesleyan Church.