Methodism in continental Europe has both British and Irish, and also American, origins. In Spain and Italy missions were launched by the British Conference. Elsewhere, the first steps were taken by laymen and later followed up by the Conference: in Gibraltar (1769 and then 1792), France (1791), Sweden (1804), Germany (1813), and Portugal (1853 and 1868). In France, Italy and Spain Methodism has more recently entered into union with other evangelical minority Churches, though still affiliated to the World Methodist Council. The work in Germany and Sweden was eventually taken up by the Methodist Episcopal Church and present-day Methodism in Central and Northern Europe is affiliated to American Methodism from which it stems.
The United Methodist Church in Europe is organised into three Central Conferences, each with a Bishop: Northern Europe; Central and Southern Europe; and Germany (known as the 'Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche'). In 1992 the republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States were designated as a new episcopal area and a bishop was appointed to superintend United Methodist work based in Moscow. A European Methodist Council was constituted in 1993, with representatives from both United Methodist and Autonomous Methodist Churches.