Doctrines and Discipline of the Free Methodist Church of North America - 1939 Edition



I. Order of Public Worship

     ¶ 80. For the establishment of uniformity in public worship among us on the Lord’s day: 1. The morning and afternoon service shall consist of singing, prayer, reading of the Scriptures and preaching. 2. The evening service shall consist of singing, prayer and preaching. 3. On the days of administering the Lord’s Supper, the reading of the Scriptures in the morning service may be omitted. 4. In administering the ordinances and in the burial of the dead, we recommend that the form of the Discipline be used. We advise that the Lord’s prayer also be used on occasions of public worship in concluding the first prayer, and the apostolic benediction in dismissing the congregation; also that the official members of each society appoint some qualified person to lead the singing at the morning and evening services. 5. The preachers should join as one man and enlarge on the impropriety of irreverent and secular conversion before and after service, and strongly exhort those who are concerned to do it no more. If the people assemble before the hour of service, or remain after it, let the time be improved in singing, prayer and testimony.

II. Singing

     ¶ 81. We should guard against formality in singing. Therefore,

     1. Choose such hymns as are proper for the occasion, and do not sing too much at once—seldom more than four or five stanzas.

     2. Have the tune suited to the sentiment, and do not suffer the people to sing too slow.

     3. In every society it shall be the duty of the preacher in charge to see that due attention be given to the cultivation of vocal and sacred music.

     4. If he, himself, can not sing, let one or two be chosen in each society to lead the singing.

     5. As singing is a part of divine worship, in which all ought to unite, therefore exhort every person in the congregation to sing, not one in ten only.

     6. In no case let there be instrumental music or choir singing in our churches. 1

     7. Let the preacher in charge see that in all cases the Free Methodist Hymnal be used in the Sunday morning services. 2

III. Love-Feasts

     ¶ 82. A love-feast shall be held on each circuit at least once in three months.

IV. Classes and Class Meetings

     ¶ 83. The chapter on general rules says of those who compose our societies: That it may be the more easily discerned whether they are indeed working out their own salvation, each society is divided into smaller companies, called classes, according to their respective places of abode. There are about twelve persons in a class, one of whom is styled the leader. It is his duty,

     1. To see each person in his class once a week at least; in order, (1) To inquire how their souls prosper. (2) To advise, reprove, comfort, or exhort, as occasion may require. (3) To receive what each is willing to give toward the relief of the preacher, church and poor.

     2. To meet the ministers and stewards of the circuit in order, (1) To inform the minister of any that are sick, or of any that walk disorderly, and will not be reproved. (2) To pay the stewards what they have received of their several classes during the week.

     3. The class meeting shall be separate and distinct from the usual testimony meeting, and shall be held whenever practicable on the Sabbath day.

     ¶ 84. Where there is more than one class in a society there shall be a general class once a month.

     ¶ 85. When any member of our church willfully and repeatedly neglects to meet his class, the preacher in charge, his assistant, or the leader should visit him, whenever it is practicable, and explain to him the consequences if he continues to neglect, namely, censure, suspension, and finally, expulsion. If he does not amend he should be brought to trial for neglect of duty.


1 By churches are meant regular societies organized and functioning under the provisions of the Free Methodist Discipline and entitled to a delegate having a vote in the annual conference. To such churches this prohibition of instrumental music applies. It also applies to all missions under control of our church; hut an exception is made of foreign-speaking churches or missions in the United States, Mexico and Japan.

2 If found inmpracticable, this rule shall not apply where shaped notes are in use.