About the United Methodist Church
In the United States, the United Methodist Church (UMC) ranks as the largest mainline church, the second largest Protestant church (after the Southern Baptist Convention), and the third largest Christian Church overall. In 2007, worldwide membership was about 12 million members: 8 million in the United States, and 4 million in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The UMC is a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council, and other religious associations.
The Methodist movement was founded in the early 1700s by John Wesley, a reforming priest in the Church of England. For Wesley, good works were the natural result of salvation, not a way in which salvation is earned. Despite this Protestant Christian belief in salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith, Wesley and his Methodist descendants today believe that faith and good works go hand in hand. A key outgrowth of this theology is the United Methodist dedication not only to an Evangelical Christian focus on repentance and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but also to a commitment to social justice issues, including abolition of slavery, women’s rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, and others.
The United Methodist Church today has developed stances on almost every issue, from abortion, to homosexuality, to war and peace. These positions are articulated by General Conference (an elected body of delegates, half lay and half clergy, from all over the world, who meet every four years.) If you are interested in the official United Methodist position on any issue, please check this website: United Methodist Social Principles.
Like other Protestant denominations, the United Methodist Church believes in the primacy of the Holy Bible (as interpreted with the aid of the Holy Spirit) as our sole authority for all matters of faith and practice. Also like other Protestants, we affirm two sacraments: baptism and communion. United Methodists, like Roman Catholics, Anglican / Episcopals, Lutherans, and Presbyterians, believe in “all-ages” baptism; we do not restrict baptism only to those who can affirm their faith. There is no strict rule among United Methodists about how baptism must be performed, although sprinkling water on the head of the person being baptized is most common. Unlike many other denominations, United Methodists practice “open communion”; everyone is accepted and welcome at the Lord’s table, whether members of the Church or not, children or adults.
Methodist belief and practice stand at a unique cross-roads between evangelical and sacramental, between liturgical and charismatic, with strands of both Anglican and Reformed theology and practice. In making an appeal to tolerate a diversity of theological opinion, John Wesley once said, “Though we may not think alike, may we not all love alike?” The phrase “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity” has also become a maxim among Methodists. At the same time, while we have always maintained a great range of opinion on many matters within the Church, we hold tightly to essential Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the full divinity and humanity of Christ, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Church as the Body of Christ, and the Second Coming of Christ.
Today’s United Methodist Church includes a wide range of theological and political beliefs. For example, both the conservative Republican George W. Bush and the liberal Democrat Hillary Clinton are United Methodists. Many practicing United Methodists believe this flexibility is one of their church’s strongest qualities. Today, the UMC is generally considered one of the more moderate and tolerant Protestant denominations.
United Methodism at Christ Community
Christ Community is proud to be part of the historic Methodist tradition. Like other United Methodist congregations, we emphasize the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. The Lord pursues us from the moment we are conceived (prevenient grace). He brings us into a right relationship with God when we accept Him as our Savior (justifying grace). Through the Holy Spirit, He reforms and transforms us and changes us into the people He intended us to be when He made us. At death, He completes us for all eternity (glorifying grace). Our loving God is at work in our lives — and the lives of all people — from beginning to end and beyond.
Our place in the great stream of Methodist belief and practice and our emphasis on the grace of God are reflected in our mission statement:
To reach the lost, feed the hungry,
and make disciples of Jesus Christ
for the transformation of the world.
For more information about our beliefs and history, please follow the links below.