United Methodist Beliefs
Often people will ask, "What does The United Methodist Church believe?" First and foremost, we are a Christian church and affirm our faith through the words of the Apostle's Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
(As it is used here, "catholic" means "universal." The Creed is not referring to the Catholic Church, but rather to the reality that all Christian churches are part of the universal Church. As United Methodists, we are Protestant.)
But, every denomination does have its own distinctive emphasis. The United Methodist Church traces its roots to the lives and ministries of John Wesley and his brother, Charles, therefore we have a Wesleyan theology. Some key distinctive emphasis of United Methodists are:
1. Our understanding of grace. United Methodists have a deep and profound understanding of God's grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 is a key verse: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast." John Wesley described grace as threefold: prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace. Briefly, here is what each means:
Prevenient grace is the grace that comes before we even take our first breath. This grace is a free gift that God gives to everyone. It is this grace that works in us to make us realize our need for a relationship with God.
Justifying grace occurs when we realize our need for forgiveness and reconciliation and choose to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is through the work of God in Jesus Christ that our sins can be forgiven and our relationship with God can be restored.
Sanctifying grace is the ongoing experience of God's grace even after we have received salvation. Through sanctifying grace we grow in knowledge and love of God and we also grow in love of neighbor.
2. Faith and Good Works. What we believe must correspond to what we do; personal faith and social holiness are equally important.
3. Scripture. The Bible is our primary source in matters of faith and practice. We believe that the Bible is God's Word and we affirm the importance of studying both the Old and New Testaments. While the Bible is our primary source, we realize that our understanding of Scripture and faith are also affected by tradition, reason, and experience.
4. Sacraments. Like most other Protestant denominations, United Methodists observe two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion.
Baptism is a sign of God's grace that joins us with the church universal; it is a symbol of new life and a sign of God's love and forgiveness. We practice both infant and adult baptism, but believe that a person only receives the sacrament of baptism once. We baptize by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.
Holy Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of the month at Minor Memorial and also at other special times throughout the year. In The United Methodist Church, we celebrate an "open table" and welcome all to come and receive regardless of church membership. We believe that the table belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, and not to one church or denomination, and we affirm that Christ welcomes all at His table.
For a more detailed explanation of United Methodist beliefs, you are invited to visit our denominational website: