What We Believe
- At the risk of stating the obvious, we’re Christians.
- There are 8 million of us in the United States and another 3.5 million in countries around the world. You can help that number grow.
- Our congregations are deeply involved in their own communities and in outreach far from home.
- Both women and men are our clergy/pastors. We believe . Our decision-making bodies always include clergy and lay church members.
- We have two sacraments – baptism and communion – and our communion table is open to all. (Yes, that really means everyone.)
- We believe that many of the things that separate people from each other are more important to them than they are to God.
- Our name, Methodist, at first was a term meant to poke fun at our theological founder, John Wesley. (He’s an interesting character, Google him to learn more!)
Some real basics about The United Methodist Church
Who can be baptized? People of any age, from infancy through adulthood, but once is sufficient because it is God’s act, not a denomination’s. (If you were baptized in another faith and later join a United Methodist church, you can “confirm” or “reaffirm” that baptism, but God got it right the first time.)
How is baptism done? Ordinary water and the hands of a minister are the tools. (Most people get sprinkled, but some prefer immersion – so, yes, you can get dunked.)
Just what is it? Communion is an act of worship that uses bread and wine (unfermented grape juice, actually) to open ourselves to God’s love, to remember Christ’s life and to be bound to a bigger community.
Who is it for? United Methodists have an “open table.” It’s not “our” table, but the family table to which Jesus welcomed everyone and a sacred time of inclusion. (You don’t have to be a member. You don’t have to be baptized. You don’t have to be an adult. It really is open to all.)
United Methodist pastors can be women or men, single or married. All are screened rigorously (background checks, psychological testing, the works). Ordination comes after a seminary education is complete and years of full-time ministry. A church may have one or more ordained ministers or a person who is licensed for ministry. Church staff may also include others who are schooled in music, Christian education, youth ministry and other disciplines.
Joining the celebration in today’s world
A worship service is everyone’s initial concept of being part of a church. Indeed, worship is a fixture, but John Wesley himself would tell you that worship happens every day – and in many ways. Today’s United Methodists are “rethinking church” and affirming to everyone that a church has many doors – literal and figurative. Church might include:
- A daycare program
- A youth basketball league
- A Bible study class
- A “Habitat for Humanity” build team
- A choir
- A mentoring program for at-risk teens
- A soup kitchen for the hungry
- A food bank
- A fund-raising project to end malaria
- A wintertime homeless shelter
- Any of thousands of ways people connect with others through the church
A basic concept is that Christianity is not practiced alone but in a community of believers who understand that “love” and “church” are both verbs. Jesus reminded the people of his time that the two great rules of life were to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s good advice to live by today. Poke your head in one of our many doors to find ways to do both things.
Originally Posted: Apr 27, 2011 – http://www.rethinkchurch.org/