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What We Believe

The United Methodist Church is a 12.8-million-strong global church that opens hearts, opens minds and opens doors through active engagement with our world.

The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, and the early Methodists placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as “practical divinity” has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.

United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians. According to our foundational statement of beliefs, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities:

When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we join with millions of Christians through the ages in an understanding of God as a Trinity—three persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From early in our Judaic roots we’ve affirmed that God is one and indivisible, yet God is revealed in three distinct ways. “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” is one way of speaking about the several ways we experience God. 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.

We believe in the mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ. God became human in Jesus of Nazareth; and his life, death and resurrection demonstrates God’s redeeming love.

We believe that 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, it’s the Holy Spirit at work.

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 Bible is God’s Word and is the primary authority for our faith and practice.

In addition to the above affirmations, the United Methodist Church believes:

…that faith and good works belong together. What we believe must be confirmed by what we do. Personal salvation must be expressed in ministry and mission in the world. Faith should inspire service.

…that because of what God has done for us, we offer our lives back to God through a life of service. As disciples, we become active participants in God’s activity in the world through mission and service. Love of God is always linked to love of neighbor and to a passionate commitment to seeking justice and renewal in the world.

…that grace is central to our understanding of Christian faith and life and can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it.

With many other Protestants, we recognize the two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

…that the table of Holy Communion is Christ’s table, not the table of The United Methodist Church or of the local congregation. The table is open to anyone who seeks to respond to Christ’s love and to lead a new life of peace and love, as the invitation to the table says.

…that the foundation of Christian living is faith in Christ. Faith is the central loyalty that gives purpose and direction to our lives. Christian faith is grounding our lives in the living God as revealed especially in Jesus the Christ. Faith does not happen overnight, but rather is a journey.

For more in-depth answers to questions about Methodist theology and the doctrine and mission of the United Methodist Church, please go to What We Believe and Who We Are.