The United Methodist Church

United Methodists come in all sizes, shapes, colors, dispositions, outlooks and life stories, but share a unique history and faith perspective. Our members speak many languages and live in many countries.

No matter how or where they serve Jesus Christ, United Methodists do God’s work in a unique structure—referred to as “the connection." This concept has been central to Methodism from its beginning. Connectionalism comes to life through our clergy appointment system, our mission and outreach, and through our collective giving. We live out our call to mission and ministry by engaging in ministry with the poor, combating diseases of poverty by improving health globally, creating new places for new people and renewing existing congregations, and developing principled Christian leaders. No one congregation can do all these ministries, but together—through the power of our connection—we can make a tremendous difference.

On April 23, 1968, The United Methodist Church was created when Bishop Reuben H. Mueller, representing The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke of The Methodist Church joined hands at the constituting General Conference in Dallas, Texas. With the words, "Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church and now in The United Methodist Church," the new denomination was given birth by two churches that had distinguished histories and influential ministries in various parts of the world.

Theological traditions steeped in the Protestant Reformation and Wesleyanism, similar ecclesiastical structures, and relationships that dated back almost two hundred years facilitated the union. In the Evangelical United Brethren heritage, for example, Philip William Otterbein, the principal founder of the United Brethren in Christ, assisted in the ordination of Francis Asbury to the superintendency of American Methodist work. Jacob Albright, through whose religious experience and leadership the Evangelical Association was begun, was nurtured in a Methodist class meeting following his conversion.

Our Values

United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians. According to our foundational statement of beliefs in The Book of Discipline, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities: Trinity We describe God in three persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are commonly used to refer to the threefold nature of God. Sometimes we use other terms, such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002), p. 13.

God
We believe in one God, who created the world and all that is in it.  We believe that God is sovereign; that is, God is the ruler of the universe. We believe that God is loving. We can experience God’s love and grace. Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002), p. 13.

Jesus
We believe that Jesus was human. He lived as a man and died when he was crucified. We believe that Jesus is divine. He is the Son of God. We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and that the risen Christ lives today. (Christ and messiah mean the same thing—God’s anointed.) We believe that Jesus is our Savior. In Christ we receive abundant life and forgiveness of sins. We believe that Jesus is our Lord and that we are called to pattern our lives after his. Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002), p. 13-14.

The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is God with us. We believe that the Holy Spirit comforts us when we are in need and convicts us when we stray from God. We believe that the Holy Spirit awakens us to God’s will and empowers us to live obediently. Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002), p. 14.

Human Beings
We believe that God created human beings in God’s image. We believe that humans can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God. We believe that all humans need to be in relationship with God in order to be fully human. Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002), p. 14.

The Church
We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ’s life and ministry in the world today. We believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We believe that the church is “the communion of saints,” a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ. We believe that the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith. Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002), p. 14.

The Bible
We believe that the Bible is God’s Word. We believe that the Bible is the primary authority for our faith and practice. We believe that Christians need to know and study the Old Testament and the New Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures). Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology (Discipleship Resources, 2002), p. 15.

The Reign of God
We believe that the kingdom or reign of God is both a present reality and future hope. We believe that wherever God's will is done, the kingdom or reign of God is present. It was present in Jesus' ministry, and it is also present in our world whenever persons and communities experience reconciliation, restoration, and healing. We believe that although the fulfillment of God's kingdom--the complete restoration of creation--is still to come. We believe that the church is called to be both witness to the vision of what God's kingdom will be like and a participant in helping to bring it to completion. We believe that the reign of God is both personal and social. Personally, we display the kingdom of God as our hearts and minds are transformed and we become more Christ-like. Socially, God's vision for the kingdom includes the restoration and transformation of all of creation. Adapted from Who Are We? Leader's Guide, p. 28.

Sacraments
With many other Protestants, we recognize the two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Baptism
Through baptism we are joined with the church and with Christians everywhere. Baptism is a symbol of new life and a sign of God's love and forgiveness of our sins. Persons of any age can be baptized. We baptize by sprinkling, immersion or pouring. A person receives the sacrament of baptism only once in his or her life.

The Lord's Supper (Communion, Eucharist)
The Lord's Supper is a holy meal of bread and wine that symbolizes the body and blood of Christ. The Lord's Supper recalls the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and celebrates the unity of all the members of God's family. By sharing this meal, we give thanks for Christ's sacrifice and are nourished and empowered to go into the world in mission and ministry. We practice "open Communion," welcoming all who love Christ, repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another.