Thomas Birch Freeman, returning from Nigeria to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1843, persuaded local chiefs to allow both preaching and the establishment of schools. Under German and then French rule the Church remained small and confined largely to the coastal Minah people. The French West Africa District, of which Togo was a part, was reshaped as first Côte d'Ivoire and then Dahomey became separate Districts and eventually autonomous Conferences, leaving Togo to achieve autonomy in 2000. Like them the Togolese Church is a member of the Evangelical Community for Apostolic Action (CEVAA) which developed from the work of the Paris Missionary Society.