What is a United Methodist?
While many new Christians today are wary of being a part of a denominational church, it’s our experience that being connected to a denomination can provide a rich experience that cannot always be replicated by an independent congregation. To coin a common phrase, there’s power in numbers! For example, every year the combined United Methodist congregation gives $ millions to support natural disaster relief, community outreach, and missions all over the world.
For those who are interested in this sort of thing, The United Methodist Church website is truly a plethora of information about our denomination. There’s a lot there, so you might want to have a fresh cup of coffee brewed!
But for those who like quick bullet points, here’s a basic overview of what we believe makes us distinct. The United Methodist Church is:
- Global: Today we speak many languages and live in many countries—with different cultures, ethnic traditions, national histories and understandings of Christian faith and practice.
- Connectional: Every United Methodist congregation is interconnected throughout the denomination via a unique, interlocking chain of conferences. The United Methodist Church practices representative democracy in its governance. Conferences elect delegates who are authorized to act and vote.
- Inclusive: All persons are welcome to attend our churches and receive Holy Communion, and are eligible to be baptized and become members.
- Grounded in Scripture: United Methodist trust free inquiry in matters of Christian doctrine. Our faith is guided by Scripture, tradition, experience and reason. Of paramount importance, however, is Scripture as the witness of God’s creating, redeeming and sustaining relationship with God’s people.
- Wesleyan (John Wesley was the founder of Methodism): The United Methodist Church has a Wesleyan heritage, and as such, places an emphasis on mind and heart (knowledge and vital piety) and putting faith and love into practice (life).
- Concerned about social justice: For more than 200 years, The United Methodist Church and its predecessor bodies have expressed concern for God’s children everywhere — the poor, the orphaned, the aging, the sick, the oppressed and the imprisoned.
- Mission-oriented: Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. In uncomplicated terms, this means we strive to nurture followers of Christ who then reach out and teach others about the love of Jesus.
- Ecumenical: United Methodists consider dialogue and missional cooperation between United Methodists and other Christians as a valid witness to the unity of the body of Christ.