The following beliefs are held by United Methodists…
What we believe about…
We join with millions of Christians through the ages in understanding God as a Trinity — three persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God, who is one, is revealed in three distinct persons.
We use many terms to describe the nature of God: God is transcendent (over and beyond all that is), yet at the same time immanent (present in everything). God is omnipresent (everywhere at once), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). God is absolute, infinite, righteous, just, loving, merciful…and more. Because we cannot speak literally about God, we use metaphors: God is a Shepherd, a Bridegroom, a Judge. God is Love or Light or Truth.
We believe God created the universe and everything in it, and loves His creation – particularly humans, who were created in His image. Humans can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God. All of us need to be in relationship with God in order to be fully human.
God sets the moral standard by which all the faithful are to live. And He stands ready to redeem us when we repent of our shortcomings.
Jesus is the Son of God, sent to free us from sin and to show us the way to abundant and eternal life. In scripture, He is described many ways – as Master, Rabbi, Teacher; as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Doorway to the sheepfold, the Light of the world, the Prince of Peace, and more. In the church’s long tradition, scores of other names or titles have been applied to Him.
He is all of these things and more.
He is our Lord, and we are meant to freely submit our will to His, to humbly profess that it is He who is in charge of this world.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is God’s present activity in our midst. When we sense God leading, challenging, or supporting or comforting us, we say that it’s the Holy Spirit at work.
After His Resurrection Christ told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). A few weeks later, on the Day of Pentecost, this came to pass: “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind…. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:2, 4). As the Book of Acts and Paul’s letters attest, from that time on, the early Christians were vividly aware of God’s Spirit leading the new church.
This is true for Christians today as well.
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 church is “the communion of saints,” a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ.
We believe the writers of the Bible were inspired by God, that they were filled with God’s Spirit as they wrote the truth to the best of their knowledge.
We hold that God was at work in the process of canonization, during which only the most faithful and useful books were adopted as Scripture.
We hold that the Holy Spirit works within us today in our thoughtful study of the Scriptures, especially as we study them together, seeking to relate the old words to life’s present realities.
God speaks to us through the Bible, which contains all things necessary for salvation.
Sacraments are defined as visible signs of inward grace; solemn rites instituted by Christ to symbolize or confer grace. In the Methodist tradition, we recognize the two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Baptism celebrates becoming a new person, and symbolizes initiation into the family of God. Baptism is not a private event, but happens within a community. Through baptism a person joins the family of believers and the Church makes a vow to walk with and support that person as he or she grows in the faith. The water of baptism symbolizes washing away of the old life and the beginning of a new life, indicating that sins are forgiven.
Other important items about baptism:
- Baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated. It should not be repeated.
- The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises.
- It is essential to remember that the power in baptism is the power of the Spirit, not the water or the methods, whether baptism is performed by sprinkling, pouring or immersion.
- In the Methodist faith tradition, we baptize babies because we believe in prevenient grace, which is divine grace that precedes human decision.
The Lord’s Supper
(also known as Holy Communion)
Holy Communion is an act of worship ordained by Christ and is a means of grace. In Communion we open ourselves to the divine love of God that is eternally present, and we receive that love and respond to it.
As with baptism, we use common, physical gifts of the earth, bread and wine — though in United Methodist churches we prefer unfermented grape juice. All Christians are welcome at our table, whatever their denomination. Holy Communion is a family meal, and all Christians are members of Christ’s family. Therefore, in each congregation, when we receive the bread and cup, we join with millions of brothers and sisters across the ages and around the world.
Three essential meanings are caught up in the proclamation in our Communion service: “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again” (The United Methodist Hymnal, p. 14).
Other important items about Communion:
- It is a holy meal that commemorates Jesus’ last meal with his disciples.
- In communion we remember Christ’s death for our sins (Christ has died), celebrate his resurrection (Christ is risen), and look forward to his final victory (Christ will come again).
- The bread symbolizes the body of Christ.
- The juice symbolizes the blood of Christ.
- As United Methodists we do NOT use wine.
- There may be those who struggle with alcoholism within our congregation.
- It is an open table, meaning all persons are welcome to participate and receive from God’s table.