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:
God We believe in one living and true God, who has revealed Himself in three persons as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three are coequal and are one God. Sometimes we use other terms, such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. We believe God created the world and all that is in it. We believe God is sovereign; that is, God is the ruler of the universe. We believe God is loving and we can experience God’s love and grace. Jesus We believe Jesus is the Son of God. We believe Jesus was human, lived a sinless life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on a cross. After three days God raised Jesus from the dead to show his power over sin and death, and that the risen Christ lives today. We believe Jesus is our Savior and through faith in him we receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal life and are restored to a right relationship with God. We believe we are never accounted righteous before God through our works or merit, but that repentant sinners are justified or accounted righteous before God only by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe Jesus is our Lord and that we are called to pattern our lives after his.
The Holy Spirit We believe the Holy Spirit is God’s presence and present activity in our midst. We believe the Holy Spirit comforts us when we are in need and convicts us when we stray from God. We believe the Holy Spirit awakens us to God’s will, empowers us to live obediently and bestows spiritual gifts on believers. The Holy Spirit is often called Our Helper, Our Comforter, Our Teacher, Our Counselor.
Human Beings We believe God created human beings in God’s image to uniquely reflect God’s love and character and care for his creation. Humanity’s relationship with God, one another and the world was shattered when humanity rebelled against God and chose to sin. We call this Original Sin. We believe every person has great potential for good, but all of us are marred by an attitude of disobedience toward God called “sin”. We believe sin separates us from God and causes many problems in our life. We believe all humans need to be in relationship with God, and every person can personally and intimately know God. We believe God has given humans “free will” and we can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God.
Salvation We believe salvation is God’s free gift (grace) to us, but we must accept it through faith in Jesus Christ. We believe good works are pleasing to and acceptable to God and are the necessary fruits of faith, but they do not have the virtue to remove our sins or avert divine judgment.
The Bible We believe the Bible – Old Testament and New Testament – is the holy inspired Word of God. We believe the Bible is the primary authority for our faith and practice and contains all things necessary for salvation. We believe Christians need to know and study the Old Testament and the New Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures).
The Church We believe the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ’s life and ministry in the world today. We believe the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We believe the church is “the communion of saints,” a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ. We believe the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith.
The Reign of God We believe 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 although the fulfillment of God's kingdom--the complete restoration of creation--is still to come. We believe 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 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. We believe the day is coming when Jesus will return to judge the world, bringing an end to injustice and restoring all things to God’s original intent.
Sacraments With many other Protestants, we recognize the two sacraments in which Christ himself participated and ordained: 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. Because we believe God’s grace is sufficient, a person receives the sacrament of baptism only once in his or her life. (See By Water and Spirit, for more details on the official statement on Baptism in the UMC)
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. As United Methodists we practice "open Communion," welcoming all who desire to be in a relationship with God through Christ, wish to repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another.