What We Believe

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." - A.W. Tozer

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:
You can read more about our United Methodist Beliefs here: https://www.umc.org/en/content/our-christian-beliefs

Core Beliefs


Who is God?
When we say the Apostles' Creed, we join with millions of Christians through the ages in an understanding of God as a Trinity— or God revealed or manifested in three persons but still one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We also try to find adjectives that describe the divine nature of God.
In our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith, we affirm God is, "everlasting" and "infinite" in "power, wisdom, justice, goodness, and love." Because we cannot speak literally about God, we use metaphors: God is a Shepherd, a Bridegroom, a Judge. God is Love or Light or Truth.

What God does
We cannot describe God with certainty. But we can put into words what God does and how we experience God's action in our lives. God works in at least these seven ways:

God creates.
In the beginning God created the universe, and God's creation is ongoing continuing even at the present time. From the whirling galaxies, to subatomic particles, to the unfathomable wonders of our own minds and bodies—we marvel at God's creative wisdom.

God sustains 
God continues to be active in creation, holding all in "the everlasting arms." In particular, we affirm that God is involved in our human history;
past, present, and future.

God loves 
God loves all creation. In particular, God loves humankind, created in God's own divine image. This love is like that of a parent. We've followed Jesus in speaking of God as "our Father," while at times it seems that God nurtures us in a motherly way as well.

God suffers 
Since God is present in creation, God is hurt when any aspect of creation is hurt. God especially suffers when people are injured. In all violence, abuse, injustice, prejudice, hunger, poverty, or illness, the living God is suffering in our midst.

God judges 
All human behavior is measured by God's righteous standards—not only the behavior itself but also the motive or the intent. The Lord of life knows our sin—and judges it.

God redeems 
Out of infinite love for each of us, God forgives our own self-destruction and renews us within. God is reconciling the individuals, groups, races, and nations that have been rent apart. God is redeeming all creation.

God reigns
 God is the Lord of all creation and of all history. Though it may oftentimes seem that the "principalities and powers" of evil have the stronger hand, we affirm God's present and future reign. When all is done, if we have difficulty in imagining who God is or in relating to God, there's a simple solution:
Remember Jesus—for in the New Testament picture of Jesus, we see God.

Used from:https://www.umc.org/en/content/our-christian-roots-god 

Jesus Christ

Son of God
We believe in Jesus is fully Divine as begotten by God; meaning that God was in the world in the actual person of Jesus of Nazareth...

Son of man
Paradoxically, we also believe that Jesus was fully human.  affirmed that Jesus was a person in every sense that we are. He was tempted. He grew weary. He wept. He expressed his anger. In fact, Jesus is God's picture of what it means to be a mature human being.

Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means God's Anointed One.
Hundreds of years before Jesus' birth, Jews expected that a new king, a descendant of the revered King David, would restore the nation of Israel to its former glory. The early Jewish Christians proclaimed that Jesus was, indeed, this Chosen One. Thus, in calling him our Christ today, we affirm that he was and is the fulfillment of the ancient hope and God's Chosen One to bring salvation to all peoples, for all time.

We also proclaim Jesus as our Lord, the one to whom we give our devoted allegiance. The word Lord had a more powerful meaning for people of medieval times, because they actually lived under the authority of lords and monarchs. To claim Jesus as Lord is to freely submit our will to his,
to humbly profess that it is he who is in charge of this world.

Perhaps best of all, we believe in Jesus as Savior, as the one through whom God has freed us of our sin and has given us the gift of whole life, eternal life, and salvation. We speak of this gift as the atonement, our "at-oneness" or reconciliation with God. We believe that in ways we cannot fully explain, God has done this through the mystery of Jesus' self-giving sacrifice on the cross and his victory over sin and death in the Resurrection.

Used from: https://www.umc.org/en/content/our-christian-roots-jesus

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is God's present activity in our midst.
When we sense God's leading, God's challenge, or God's support or comfort, we say that it's the Holy Spirit at work.
In Hebrew, the words for Spirit, wind, and breath are nearly the same. It could not be seen or held: "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes" (John 3:8). However, the effect of God's Spirit, can be felt and known.

In the Bible
The Spirit is mentioned often throughout the Bible:
In Genesis a "wind from God swept over the face of the waters," and took part in Creation (1:2).
Throughout the Old Testament scriptures, we often read the phrase "the Spirit of the Lord."
In Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism, Jesus "saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him" (3:16)
and he "was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted" (4:1).
After his Resurrection Christ told his disciples, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8).
On the Day of Pentecost, this came to pass: "And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind....All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:2, 4).
As the Book of Acts and Paul's letters attest, from that time on, the early Christians were vividly aware of God's Spirit leading the new church.
In guidance, comfort, and strength

In Life
Today we continue to experience God's breath, God's Spirit. As one of our creeds puts it,
"We believe in the Holy Spirit, God present with us for guidance, for comfort, and for strength" (The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 884).
We sense the Spirit in time alone—perhaps in prayer, in our study of the Scriptures, in reflection on a difficult decision, or in the memory of a loved one. The Spirit's touch is intensely personal.
Perhaps we're even more aware of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers—the congregation, the church school class or fellowship group, the soup kitchen, the planning committee, the prayer meeting, the family. Somehow the Spirit speaks through the thoughtful and loving interaction of God's people. The Holy Spirit, who brought the church into being, is still guiding and upholding it, if we will but listen.

In the gifts we receive
How does the Holy Spirit affect our lives? By changing us! By renewing us and by strengthening us for the work of ministry.
Fruits: Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). What sort of fruit? Paul asserts that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).
Gifts: Paul also writes that the Spirit bestows spiritual gifts on believers. In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 he lists nine, which vary from one person to another: the utterance of wisdom, the utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, the discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
These fruits and gifts are not of our own achievement. They and others are the outgrowth of the Spirit's work in us, by grace, through our faith in Jesus the Christ. And they are not given for personal gain. Through these fruits and gifts, the Holy Spirit empowers us for ministry in the world.

Used from: https://www.umc.org/en/content/our-christian-roots-the-holy-spirit


Humans, both male and female, were created in God's image for His glory. The first humans, Adam and Eve, were created without sin and were appointed as caretakers of the rest of God's creations.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed the boundaries of God's will, they ceased to be what they were made to be and became distorted images of God. This has led therefore to a state of "brokenness" or "spiritual sickness" which fractured all of humanities relationships including our relationship with God, our fellow human beings, and even our relationship with ourselves.

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 which is offered to us through Jesus Christ.
We believe that all humans need the salvation offered through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit's work within us to be in relationship with God and to be restored to the fullness of our humanity as we were first created.

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 for the transformation of the world.
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 say that the Bible is vital to our faith and life, but what exactly is the Bible? Here are four ways to view it:

A library
The Bible is a collection of sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) and twenty-seven in the New Testament. These books were written over a one-thousand-year period in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke), and Greek.
The books are of different lengths and different literary styles. In the Hebrew Bible we find legends, histories, liturgies for community worship, songs, proverbs, sermons, even a poetic drama (Job). In the New Testament are Gospels, a history, many letters, and an apocalypse (Revelation). Yet through it all the Bible is the story of the one God, who stands in a covenant relationship with the people of God.

Sacred Scripture
The sixty-six books were thoughtfully used by faithful people. In the process their merits were weighed, and the community of believers finally gave them special authority. Tested by faith, proven by experience, these books have become sacred; they've become our rule for faith and practice.
In Israel the Book of Deuteronomy was adopted as the Word of God about 621 B.C. The Torah, or Law (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), assumed authority around 400 B.C.; the Prophets about 200 B.C.; and the Writings about 100 B.C. After a struggle the Christians determined that the Hebrew Bible was Scripture for them as well.
The New Testament as we know it was formed and adopted by church councils between A.D. 200 and A.D. 400.

God speaking to us about salvation
We say that God speaks to us through the Bible and that it contains all things necessary for salvation. This authority derives from three sources:
We hold that the writers of the Bible were inspired by God, that they were filled with God's Spirit as they wrote the truth to the best of their knowledge.
We hold that God was at work in the process of canonization, during which only the most faithful and useful books were adopted as Scripture.
We hold that the Holy Spirit works today in our thoughtful study of the Scriptures, especially as we study them together, seeking to relate the old words to life's present realities.
The Bible's authority is, therefore, nothing magical. For example, we do not open the text at random to discover God's will.
The authority of Scripture derives from the movement of God's Spirit in times past and in our reading of it today.

A guide to faith and life
We United Methodists put the Bible to work. In congregational worship we read from the Bible. Through preaching, we interpret its message for our lives. It forms the background of most of our hymns and liturgy. It's the foundation of our church school curriculum. Many of us use it in our individual devotional lives, praying through its implications day by day.
Perhaps the Bible is best put to use when we seriously answer these four questions about a given text:
(1) What did this passage mean to its original hearers?
(2) What part does it play in the Bible's total witness?
(3) What does God seem to be saying to my life, my community, my world, through this passage?  
(4) What changes should I consider making as a result of my study?

Used from:  https://www.umc.org/en/content/our-christian-roots-the-bible

God's Reign

Christian faith is, in part, a matter of hoping. We believe in and trust the Lord of the future, and we lean into the future that God has promised.
God goes before us, beckoning us into the new world that is already being created, calling us to join in the challenging work of fashioning it.
However, when we're confronted with personal disasters or with the daily horror stories of society's ills, we may falter.
Hope may seem to be unrealistic, naive optimism. Yet our hope is not in trends. Our hope is in the Lord of all creation and all history—a God who is still in charge and is actively at work transforming the world. How do we know this?

The coming shalom
The Bible is a book of God's promises. It may seem to be about the past, but its outlook is toward the future. From promises in the Book of Genesis to Abraham and Sarah for a new land, a son, and countless descendants (chapter 17), to promises in the Book of Revelation of a "new heaven and a new earth" (21:1), God was helping biblical people live into the vision of creation's ultimate goal.
The Old Testament uses the word "shalom" to describe God's future. We often translate this word as "peace," but it means more than that. Shalom means a world of plenty, of personal and interpersonal harmony and righteousness, of liberation, of just economic practices,
and of ordered political relations.

The coming kingdom
For Jesus, the shalom of God was the kingdom of God, the coming reign of God in human hearts and in all human affairs. In fact he proclaimed that this reign already "has come near" (Mark 1:15) and that the decision about one's part in it was an urgent necessity:
"Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).
In the resurrection of our Lord, his amazed followers recognized that God's reign was breaking into their lives: "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old regime of hostility, greed, injustice, and violence was obsolete and dying. The new order was coming in: "See, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5). For those who see with the eyes of faith, it is apparent that our common human future on earth is indeed the promised reign of God.

The church as a sign of the future
There are signs of the coming Kingdom all around us—from random acts of kindness by individuals to the worldwide family's growth in tolerance and cooperation. In particular we see the church as a sign of the Kingdom. Imperfect as it is, the community of believers nevertheless provides the best clue we have to God's vision. Day after day, we see deeds of Christian courage, of compassion and reconciliation, of integrity in the face of temptation, and of witness for truth and justice.

Our part
And what is our role? To sit back and simply wait for God's kingdom to arrive? By no means! We are to pray earnestly for the Kingdom to come on earth (Matthew 6:10). We are to watch faithfully for any signs of its coming (Matthew 25:13). We are to put away our old selves and clothe ourselves "with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). As renewed people, we're to do "the work of ministry" (Ephesians 4:12). As Easter people witness and serve, we take part in the Kingdom's dawning.
Thy Kingdom come!

Used From: https://www.umc.org/en/content/our-christian-beliefs-gods-reign

The Methodist Emphasis

Wesley's Doctrine of Grace

Prevenient Grace:
When we consider the circumstances that led to us coming to faith in Jesus Christ, we begin to see the hand of God at work in our lives long before we were aware of the Spirit’s presence. John Wesley, the historical founder of the Methodist movement, saw the grace of God at work in the moments of life before we even had a knowledge of God in our lives. But at the same time one might find their hearts drawn to the love of God. God's grace woos us through little moments, maybe even moments we deem insignificant, through relationships we have, through reading something that speaks God's love into our lives.  When one experiences a healing moment, forgiveness, and restoration available by faith in Jesus Christ it is not out of the blue, it has come to you by God’s prevenient grace.
Wesley’s other favorite word for this season of grace was preventing—a word he used in the 1700s very differently than the way we use it today. The words prevenient and preventing come from a Latin root word that means to precede. Prevenient or preventing grace then is simply the grace that comes before. Before what? Justifying grace.
This grace convinces one of being a sinner who need God for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit assists them to come to God and acknowledge God’s will and holiness. Wesley taught that God’s grace is available to everyone and not just a select few, as some of his contemporaries believed.
By describing this period as grace, we remind ourselves this is not something we do under our own power. It is, instead, a gift from God.
When we understand it as grace, we acknowledge that God is acting in our lives long before we know it.
The Bible puts it this way, “God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Justifying Grace:
 Ephesians 2:8 states, “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift.”
Salvation is not something we earn nor do we deserve it. It comes to us because of God’s great love for us.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, preached and wrote often about the amazing grace of God that leads us into renewed relationship with God. Grace is really a description of God at work in our lives. All that is required from human beings is to receive everything from God by faith. Wesley taught that our entire spiritual lives are an act of God’s grace. He named those periods as:
1) prevenient grace, 2) justifying grace, and 3) sanctifying grace.
It may sound like he is talking about three different graces, but that is not the case. it is all one grace expressed in different moments of our Spiritual life. God's Justifying grace is recognized as God making us right in standing before God. The Bible tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23). Try as we might, we cannot be good enough. We need God to make things right between us, to justify us. “Justification" is another word for "pardon.”
"Justifying faith implies, not only a divine evidence or conviction that ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," Wesley writes in another sermon, Justification by Faith, “but a sure trust and confidence that Christ died for ‘my’ sins, that he loved ‘me,’ and gave himself for ‘me.’ And at what time so-ever a sinner thus believes…God justifieth that ungodly one.”
In a pamphlet titled The Principles of a Methodist Farther Explained, Wesley likens this moment in our spiritual development to a door. At the moment of justification, we cross the threshold from unbelief to belief. This, however, is not of our own doing.
As Ephesians 2:8 reminds us, salvation is a gift offered to us by our gracious (i.e. grace-filled) God.

Sanctifying Grace:
“What is more powerful, your sin or God’s grace?”
“If it’s true that God’s grace is more potent and powerful, and can overcome our sin, then what does that look like in my daily life?”
John Wesley’s fervent belief that God’s grace is more powerful than sin, motivated his tireless work to begin the Methodist movement.
He gathered Christians into small groups for support and encouragement as they lived into their faith. Together they confessed their sin, watched over one another in love, and sought to love God and their neighbors as Jesus did. Wesley taught that God’s grace shapes us throughout our lives. After God’s prevenient grace convicts us of our sin and our need for Christ, and after we receive forgiveness by faith through God’s justifying grace, our spiritual growth continues. By God’s sanctifying grace, we mature as disciples of Jesus Christ. In a sermon, Wesley distinguished between justifying and sanctifying grace. Wesley wrote of justifying grace, saying that it “implies what God does for us through the Son; the other [Sanctifying Grace], is what God works in us by the Spirit.”
The word sanctify simply means “to make holy,”  meaning that God’s sanctifying grace shapes us more and more into the likeness of Christ.
As the Holy Spirit fills our lives with love for God and our neighbor, we begin to live differently. Sanctifying Grace reminds us that we are works in progress, and not yet complete in our perfection.
Wesley prescribed some ways we can put ourselves in positions to receive God’s sanctifying grace. These “means of grace” are things we do to grow toward “holiness of heart and life,” as Wesley called mature faith.

Means of Grace:
John Wesley defined "Means of Grace" as the ordinary channels in which God conveys his grace to us through our engagement in Spiritual practices, Also called "Spiritual Disciplines". John Wesley taught that God's grace is unearned and that we were not to be idle waiting to experience grace but we are to engage in the means of grace. The means of grace are ways God works invisibly in disciples, hastening, strengthening; and confirming faith so that God's grace pervades in and through disciples.
the "Means of Grace" can be divided into two subgroups
"works of piety" and "works of mercy." Additionally these two subgroups can again be subdivided into two more divisions "Personal Holiness" and "Social Holiness" or "individual practices" and "communal practices."

Works of Piety:
The following were not meant to be an exhaustive  list of the Means of  Grace, but rather the most common or ordinary meansthat God's grace is conveyed to us. Piety is defined as, "Acts of reverence or religious duties that help to establish and create a fulfilling relationship with God"
Individual Practices – reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others
Communal Practices – regularly share in the sacraments, Christian conferencing (accountability to one another), and Bible study

Works of Mercy:
The purpose of Social Holiness or Acts of Mercy was a means of sharing God's grace with other through our service and ministry, but recognizing that when we give of ourselves to God and neighbor, we still continue to receive God's grace as well.
Individual Practices - doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others
Communal Practices – seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination, and addressing the needs of the poor

Making disciples, growing vital congregations and transforming the world is part of a spiritual adventure that is empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit as churches engage in the means of grace. Spiritual goals are accomplished by connecting the means of grace with proven vital church practices such as planning, strategic direction, prioritization, clear focus and alignment.

Doctrine of Perfection:
"Perfection" or often referred to as "entire sanctification", is a view held by John Wesley that taught that Christians could to some degree attain perfection in this life. Wesley described it as, "...that habitual disposition of the soul which, in the sacred writings, is termed holiness; and which directly implies being cleansed from sin, 'from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit'; and, by consequence, being endued with those virtues which were in Christ Jesus; being so 'renewed in the image of our mind,' as to be 'perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect' ( A Plain Account of Christian Perfectionism, p. 12).
Furthermore, "In this is perfection, and glory, and happiness: the royal law of heaven and earth is this, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.' The one perfect good shall be your one ultimate end" (Ibid.).
Lastly, perfection is "deliverance from inward as well as from outward sin" (ibid., p. 26)
 and "a Christian is so far perfect as not to commit sin" (ibid., p. 25).

What perfection is not!
Wesley was clear what perfection doesn't mean, "They are not perfect knowledge. They are not free from ignorance, no, nor from mistake. We are no more to expect any living man to be infallible, than to be omniscient. They are not free from infirmities, such as weakness or slowness of understanding, irregular quickness or heaviness of imagination... (ibid., p. 23).

He later clarified that, "We willingly allow and continually declare, there is no such perfection in this life, as implies either a dispensation from doing good, and attending all ordinances of God, or a freedom from ignorance, mistake, temptation, and a thousand infirmities necessarily connected with flesh and blood (ibid., p. 35).

As United Methodists we affirm that we are "moving on towards perfection",
with the understanding that each day we are being shaped and molded by God's gift of grace,
which is leading us towards a maturing  faith in God and holiness reflected in our lives.

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