Following Martin Luther’s 1517 Protestant Reformation in Germany, many parts of Europe adopted the Protestant form of Christianity as their State Church or National Church. In the century that followed, the Pietistic movement saw many followers who valued their personal relationship with God. As many State churches disallowed Christian gatherings outside of church premises, believers started to question their governance over one’s individual’s freedom to worship.
Believers who left the State churches began organizing their own “Free” churches – “Free” because they were not under the authority of the State and each church had the freedom to worship according to her convictions derived from Scripture.
These European “free” churches were found primary in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Following the Scandinavian migration of believers in the 19th century, the Evangelical Free Church crossed over to America, giving rise to the Swedish Evangelical Free Church there in 1884. Separately, the Norwegian and Danish churches founded the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church. The word “Evangelical” was added to show their doctrinal position as Bible believing followers, accepting the authority and accuracy of the Bible.
The Swedish and Danish-Norwegian fellowships merged in 1950, giving birth to the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). In the late 1950s, it commissioned missionaries to the Far East which birthed the story of EFC in Singapore.
The earliest EFCA missionaries were Revered Arthur Linquist and his wife, Annie who came in 1957. Followed by Reverend Richard Frederick McMurray and his wife Dorothy in 1960 followed by Revered Benjamin Sawatsky and his wife Muriel. Through a series of God ordained events, the 1st EFC church in Singapore, Bethany Evangelical Free Church was established in 1961 and her inaugural meeting was held at 133 Fidelio Street. On the other side of Singapore at Yarwood Avenue at Bukit Timah (and later to King Albert Park), in 1964, a non denominational group organized themselves to form Bukit Timah Evangelical Free Church (now known as Woodlands EFC).
Notwithstanding its short history in Singapore, the EFC denomination is now recognised as a mainline denomination locally with an umbrella of churches, and continues to grow.