The Republic of Benin was formerly the French colony of Dahomey. Methodism traces its origins to Thomas Birch Freeman in the 1840s and spread from the town of Porto Novo. At first part of the Lagos District and then the French West Africa District, it became an autonomous Conference in 1992. It is one of the member Churches of the Evangelical Community for Apostolic Action (CEVAA) which placed a pioneering international Joint Action for Mission team in central Dahomey in the 1960s. The theological college at Porto Novo has for many years served Protestant Churches in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo and elsewhere in the region.