What Does it Mean to Be a Methodist? Faith in Action
The United Methodist Church represents the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
The United Methodist Church (UMC) was formed in a merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968, but the Methodist movement traces its roots back to a movement begun in England by John and Charles Wesley.
Methodism enjoys some distinctive traits and practices that relate to the idea of putting one's faith into practice. While we hold with the teachings of Scripture that salvation is a gift that cannot be earned through works, we also recognize the principle that true faith moves the believer to act in the world. John Wesley has been credited with saying "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." Methodists typically respond to their salvation by engaging in helping and serving others in practical ways, as well as passing on the Good News of the Gospel.
The United Methodist denomination is governed by our mission, "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." We do this by proclaiming the Good News of God's grace, and by working to fulfill Jesus' command to love God and to love our neighbor. This mission is our grace-filled response to God's calling in our own lives. God's grace is active everywhere, and at all times. We see it every day in the community, missions, and fellowship at Vernon United Methodist, and we stand ready to help others to experience it, through spiritual transformation, and through the work that we do to serve others.
Below you will find a list of some of the distinctive traits of the United Methodist Church:
- We are Connectional. Every United Methodist congregation is inter-connected. We practice representative democracy in our church government, and we share resources to promote and facilitate mission work around the world.
- We are Inclusive. All persons are welcome to attend United Methodist Churches and receive Holy Communion, and are eligible to be baptized and become members.
- We are Grounded in Scripture. United Methodists 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.
- We are Wesleyan. The United Methodist Church has a Wesleyan heritage, and as such, places an emphasis on mind and heart (knowledge and piety) and putting faith and love into practice (life).
- We are 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.
- We are 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.
- We are Ecumenical. United Methodists consider dialogue and missional cooperation between ourselves and other Christians in other denominations as a valid witness to the unity of the body of Christ.
Excerpted from the United Methodist Church website.