We are a United Methodist church and are therefore part of the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States. United Methodists share many basic beliefs with other Christians. These include our belief in the Bible as God’s inspired Scripture, our belief in God our Creator as existing in three parts or persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – known as the Trinity. We believe that humanity depends entirely upon God for our salvation, which is given to us freely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In one of the distinctions from some other Christian denominations, we believe that God has given us free will by which we can choose to accept or reject God’s gift of salvation through Christ, which is available to each and all persons.
From its roots as a movement in the Church of England, the United Methodist Church has placed particular emphasis upon grace – the unearned, undeserved love of God for humans. We see God’s grace as given to us in three distinct ways:
1. Prevenient (“going before”) – grace that reaches out to us even before we are aware of our own sinfulness and our great need for God’s love.
2. Justifying – grace that pardons us of our sins, saves us, and treats us as if we had never sinned.
3. Sanctifying – grace that helps us as believers to grow more like Christ and mature in our spiritual journey for the rest of our lives.
As United Methodists study and reflect on God, theology, and how we are to believe and live, we look primarily to four sources – Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. Of these four, Scripture is always primary and most authoritative; and its study, both individual and in groups, is important. When we use tradition, we look to the teachings and practices of the church and, in particular, the early church of the first four centuries. Experience draws upon the lessons and meaning we draw from the experiences of our own lives and those of others. Finally, the source of reason simply asserts that God has given us the ability to think rationally, to analyze, and to make thoughtful decisions. While the church provides basic
We practice the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion. United Methodists teach that baptism is received once as our initiation into the faith. United Methodists commonly perform baptism by sprinkling but also use the modes of pouring and immersion. Holy Communion is both a remembrance of Christ’s sacrificial death for us and a celebration of Christ’s great love for us. United Methodists practice open communion and teach that Christ’s presence in the communion elements of bread and wine (unfermented grape juice) is a real and spiritual presence.