OUR CHRISTIAN ROOTS
United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians. According to our foundational statement of beliefs, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities.
We describe God in three persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are commonly used to refer to the threefold nature of God.
- We believe in one God, who created the world and all that is in it.
- We believe that God is sovereign; that is, God is the ruler of the universe.
- We believe that God is loving. We can experience God's love and grace.
- We believe that Jesus was human. He lived as a man and died when he was crucified.
- We believe that Jesus is divine. He is the Son of God.
- We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and that the risen Christ lives today.
- We believe that Jesus is our Savior. In Christ we receive abundant life and forgiveness of sins.
- We believe that Jesus is our Lord and that we are called to pattern our lives after his.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
- We believe that the Holy Spirit is God with us.
- We believe that the Holy Spirit comforts us when we are in need and convicts us when we stray from God.
- We believe that the Holy Spirit awakens us to God's will and empowers us to live obediently.
- We believe that God created human beings in God's image.
- We believe that humans can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God.
- We believe that all humans need to be in relationship with God in order to be fully human.
- We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ's life and ministry in the world today.
- We believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
- We believe that the church is "the communion of saints," a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ.
- We believe that the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith.
- We believe that the Bible is God's Word.
We believe that the Bible is the primary authority for our faith and practice.
- We believe that Christians need to know and study the Old Testament and the New Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures).
THE REIGN OF GOD
- We believe that the kingdom or reign of God is both a present reality and future hope.
- We believe that wherever God's will is done, the kingdom or reign of God is present.
- We believe that the fulfillment of God's kingdom - the complete restoration of creation - is still to come.
We believe that the church is called to be both witness to the vision of what God's kingdom will be like and a participant in helping to bring it to completion.
- We believe that the reign of God is both personal and social.
With many other Protestants, we recognize the two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
- Through baptism we are joined with the church and with Christians everywhere.
- Baptism is a symbol of new life and a sign of God's love and forgiveness of our sins.
- Persons of any age can be baptized.
- We baptize by sprinkling, immersion or pouring.
- A person receives the sacrament of baptism only once in his or her life.
The Lord's Supper (Communion, Eucharist)
- The Lord's Supper is a holy meal of bread and wine that symbolizes the body and blood of Christ.
- The Lord's Supper recalls the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and celebrates the unity of all the members of God's family.
- By sharing this meal, we give thanks for Christ's sacrifice and are nourished and empowered to go into the world in mission and ministry.
- We practice "open Communion," welcoming all who love Christ, repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.
OUR WESLEYAN HERITAGE
Grace is central to our understanding of Christian faith and life. Our United Methodist heritage is rooted in a deep and profound understanding of God's grace. This incredible grace flows from God's great love for us. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, described God's grace as threefold:
- prevenient grace
- justifying grace
- sanctifying grace
John Wesley understood prevenient grace as God's active presence in our lives. This presence is not dependent on human actions or human response. It is a gift - a gift that is always available, but can be refused.
Reconciliation, pardon, and restoration demonstrate the justifying grace of God. Through the work of God in Christ our sins are forgiven, and our relationship with God is restored. According to John Wesley, the image of God - which has been distorted by sin - is renewed within us through Christ's death.
The process of salvation involves a change in us that we call conversion. Conversion is a turning around, leaving one orientation for another - a rebirth, new life in Christ, or regeneration. John Wesley called this process justification. Justification is as time or repentance - turning away from behaviors rooted in sin and toward actions that express God's love,
Salvation is not a static, one-time event in our lives. It is the ongoing experience of God's gracious presence transforming us into whom God intends us to be. John Wesley described this dimension of God's grace a sanctification, or holiness. Through God' sanctifying grace we grow and mature in our ability to live as Jesus lived.
Mission and Service
Because of what God has done for us, we offer our lives back to God through a life of service. As disciples, we become active participants in God's activity in the world through mission and service. Love of God is always linked to love of neighbor and to a passionate commitment to seeking justice and renewal in the world.
Material taken from United Methodist Member's Handbook, Revised by George Koehler and from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology.