We, the people called United Methodists, affirm our faith in God our Creator and Father,
in Jesus Christ our Savior, and in the Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guard . . .
We acknowledge that because it is a living body of believers gathered together by God from many diverse segments of the human community, unanimity of belief, opinion, and practice has never been characteristic of the church from the beginning to this day . . . Therefore, whenever significant differences of opinion among faithful Christians occur, some of which continue to divide the church deeply today, neither surprise nor dismay should be allowed to separate the members of the Body from one another; nor should those differences be covered over with false claims of consensus or unanimity. To the contrary, such conflict must be embraced with courage and perseverance as all together we seek to discern God's will. In that understanding and commitment, we pledge ourselves to acknowledge and to embrace with courage, trust, and hope those controversies that arise among us, accepting them as evidence that God is not yet finished in sculpting us to be God's people. We commit ourselves to declaring our faith that God's grace is available to all, and that nothing can separate us from the love of God. In that confidence, we pledge to continue to be in respectful dialogue with those with whom we disagree, to explore the sources of our differences, to honor the sacred worth of all persons, and to tell the truth about our divisions as we continue to seek the mind of Christ and to do the will of God in all things.
~ from the Preamble to the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church
What we believe about:
The Bible is the foundation of our faith. We believe that the Scriptures contain everything a person needs in order to know God, and to be in a right relationship with God. God inspired human authors to write the books of the Bible. The writings reflect the individual styles, backgrounds, and cultural understandings of those human authors; however, we believe that God kept the writers from error regarding spiritual truth and the way of salvation. No other writings are so inspired. Therefore, the Scriptures are the unique authoritative source for matters of Christian faith and practice.
We believe there is one true, holy, and living God. This God exists in three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. Each is distinct yet inseparable, forming a perfect and eternal relationship that Christians have come to refer to as the Trinity--one God in three persons.
Jesus has existed eternally as the second member of the Trinity. As to his earthly life, he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and given birth by a virgin named Mary. Jesus lived a sinless life, but was unjustly accused and sentenced to death. Three days after his execution, God raised him from the dead. Today, the risen Jesus--fully God and fully human--serves as the mediator between God and humanity. Scripture says he will return someday to fulfill God’s plan to restore all of creation to perfection.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit has existed eternally as the third member of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is present in our world today. The Spirit speaks to us, reminding us of our need for God, inviting us to approach God through Jesus, and inspiring us to live in a way that is pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit is always with us providing conviction, comfort, strength, and encouragement. The Holy Spirit also enables us to understand and apply Scripture, and gives us unique spiritual gifts to help us build up the church and serve others in the world. When we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives, the Spirit begins to produce in us character and behavior that reflects the presence of God within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
God created all things to be good and to live in harmony with God. Unfortunately, humanity rebelled against God; collectively and individually we choose to go our own way rather than to submit our Creator. We are separated from God by our rebellion--what the Bible calls sin. In this fallen state, we are in constant conflict with God, with others, and with ourselves. We are completely unable to save ourselves from this broken condition; despite amazing advances in human knowledge, medicine, and technology, we cannot find peace with our Creator, with each other, or within ourselves.
The Good News of the Bible is God's relentless pursuit of all people. God’s desire is to have a loving relationship with us. It is for this very reason that God came to earth in Jesus. Because he was sinless himself, Jesus was able to pay the price for the sins of others. All who believe in Jesus and accept God's gracious gift of forgiveness are saved. That is, they are set free from the consequences of their sin, and are at peace with God. Because God gives us a choice, it is possible for us to reject God's gift and be forever separated from God’s love--a reality the Bible calls hell. Those who accept God’s gift of forgiveness will enter into a new, perfect, eternal reality filled with God’s holy and loving presence--a reality the Bible calls heaven.
Once we enter into a relationship with Jesus, we become members of the universal Church. Comprised of all who genuinely seek to follow Jesus, the Church exists to serve and glorify God. All members of the universal Church are called by God to become committed participants in a local church where they can use their God-given gifts to bless others, and be blessed themselves by the gifts of others. The Bible describes what believers are to do together: worship, pray, encourage, study God's Word, serve one another, share the sacraments (communion and baptism), and reach out in love to the world. When this happens, the Church functions as a healthy organism--the body of Christ.
This Statement of Faith describes the foundational beliefs of our church. You will not find anything unusual here--our beliefs are well within the historic teachings of the Christian faith. While sincere Christians may disagree over issues for which the Bible does not give clear direction, we, as a church, focus on the essential beliefs—those with clear, biblical support. And we strive to be respectful and open-minded on issues where the Bible is not clear. As John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, said: "We believe the written Word of God to be the only and sufficient rule both of Christian faith and practice . . . but as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think."
Click here for more information about the doctrine, polity, and history of the United Methodist Church.