UNITED METHODISTS BELIEVE
United Methodists affirm the historic Christian faith as summarized in the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.
We believe in the Triune God, the Trinity -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We believe every person is a beloved child of God.
We believe in the Church as the community called to be instruments of God's presence and coming reign in Jesus Christ.
We believe in the Bible as God's revealed Word.
We believe in the final triumph of God's reign of compassion, justice, generosity, and peace.
--Bishop Kenneth L. Carder
ROUTED IN GOD'S GRACE
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.
Grace can be defined as the love and mercy God gives us because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. We read in Ephesians 2: 8-9, "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, the founder of the Methodist movement, described God's grace as threefold: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying.
God takes the initiative in relating to humanity. We do not have to beg and plead for God's love and grace. God actively seeks us!
Justification is what happens when Christians abandon all those vain attempts to justify themselves before God, to be seen as "just" in God's eyes through religious and moral practices. It is a time when God's "justifiying grace" is experienced and accepted, a time of pardon and forgiveness, of new peace and joy and love. Indeed, we are justified by God's grace through faith.
Through God's sanctifying grace, we grow and mature in our ability to live as Jesus lived. As we pray, study the Scriptures, fast, worship, and share in fellowship with other Christians, we deepen our knowledge of and love for God. As we respond with compassion to human need and work for justice in our communities, we strengthen our capacity to love our neighbor. Our inner thoughts and motives, as well as our outer actions and behavior, are aligned with God's will and testify to our union with God.
CALLED TO BE CONNECTIONAL
United Methodist leaders often speak of the denomination as "the connection." This concept has been central to Methodism from its beginning. The United Methodist structure and organization began as a means of accomplishing the mission of spreading scriptural holiness. Methodism's founder, John Wesley, recognized the need for an organized system of communication and accountability and developed what he called the "connexion," an interlocking system of classes, societies, and annual conferences.
We begin with the LOCAL CHURCHES. Local churches send their pastors and elect lay delegates to the ANNUAL CONFERENCES. From the Annual Conferences, elected ordained and lay members are sent to represent the local churches at the GENERAL CONFERENCE and the JURISDICTIONAL CONFERENCES. From these conferences our bishops are elected and the Judicial Council is appointed.
As spiritual leaders of the our church, BISHOPS help set the direction of the church and uphold the church's theological traditions and teachings. Bishops are responsible for making all clergy appointments in their annual conferences they serve, as well as upholding the rules and regulations developed by General Conference. As the presiding officers at annual conference sessions, they are responsible for ruling on points of law. Changes in pastoral leadership in the local church, when there is a new appointment, normally occurs on July 1st.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CONNECTIONAL?
Simply put, no one congregation is the total body of Christ. United Methodist churches and organizations join in mission with one another and with other denominations. Connectionalism shows through the clergy appointment system, through the mission and ministry that United Methodists do together, and through giving. Mission endeavors around the world whether a new university in Africa or tornado relief in Indiana, are the work of "the connection."
Source: "United Methodist Handbook," created by the United Methodist Communications. Learn more at www.umc.org.
SOCIAL PRINCIPLES of the United Methodist Church
The Social Principles, while not to be considered church law, are a prayerful and thoughtful effort on the part of the General Conference to speak to the human issues in the contemporary world from a sound biblical and theological foundation as historically demonstrated in United Methodist traditions. They are a call to faithfulness and are intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophetic spirit. The Social Principles are a call to all members of The United Methodist Church to a prayerful, studied dialogue of faith and practice. (See ¶ 509.)