What's a United Methodist?
What's different or distinctive about being a United Methodist?
There are no exclusively United Methodist doctrines. Although we have distinctive emphases, we have no affirmations that are not also believed by other Christian groups. United Methodists have traditionally proclaimed the following emphases:
- The availability of God's grace for all;
- The essential unity of faith and works;
- Salvation as personal and social;
- The church as a community of Christ's disciples who seek to share in God's mission;
- The inseparability of knowledge (intellect) and vital piety (devotion to religious duties and practices) as components of faith;
- Seeking holiness of heart and life both as individuals and in our society;
- A cooperative ministry and mission in the world, often referred to as "connectionalism";
- The link between Christian doctrine and Christian living.
How old is the UM church?
The present denomination was created in 1968 with the merger of The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Where did the church get its name?
John and Charles Wesley and a few other young men attending Oxford University met regularly in 1729 for intellectual and spiritual improvement and to help one another become better Christians. So systematic were their habits of religious duty and their rules of conduct that other students referred to them as “Methodists.” To learn more about John Wesley, click here.
The word “United” now in our name comes from The Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) Church, when they joined The Methodist Church in 1968.
How many Methodist denominations are there in the United States?
There are at least 19 Wesleyan denominations. The largest of these, with 8.7 million members, is The United Methodist Church. It ranks as the second largest Protestant denomination behind the Southern Baptists.
How are official positions on social matters determined by the church?
Only the General Conference, a representative body of no more than 1,000 clergy and lay persons which meets every four years, officially determines church policy and speaks on social issues. Through a set of Social Principles, the General Conference speaks to human issues from a biblical and theological foundation. These principles are intended to be instructive and persuasive. Agreement is not required, but members are called to a “prayerful, studied dialogue of faith and practice.” Official resources of the church such as curriculum must reflect the official positions of the church.
Do lay people have much to say about what happens in the church?
Laity and clergy have equal voice in annual, jurisdictional and general conferences of the church. There are also guidelines that encourage fair representation of women, young adults and youth in decision making. Of course, at the local level, lay persons are deeply involved in every aspect of the church's mission and ministry.
How can I get more answers to my questions?
Talk to one of our pastors; call InfoServ, the church's nationwide, toll-free telephone service at 1.800.251.8140; or visit the United Methodist Church’s website.
Information for these Methodist FAQ's is from Thomas S. McAnally's "Questions and Answers About The United Methodist Church", published by Abington Press, 1995.