What We Believe
United Methodists are a group of Christians totalling over 8 million in the United States alone. In addition, United Methodists can be found around the world sharing our faith with open hearts, open minds and open doors.
The Christian faith is like a river, with Jesus Christ as its source. In time the river has split into smaller rivers and tributaries. But like a river, as travelers move upstream, they will eventually find their way back to the original source, Jesus Christ.
Traditionally, we have emphasized the following:
In practice, we are similar to other Protestant denominations, affirming our beliefs through the sacred symbols of baptism and communion.
Through baptism, we accept God’s gifts through Jesus. There is no strict rule among United Methodists about how baptism must be performed, although sprinkling water on the head of the person being baptized is most common. Everyone is accepted and welcome at the communion table, whether members of the Church or not, kids or adults.
The modern history of United Methodism can be traced back to John Wesley, who felt his own heart strangely warmed nearly three centuries ago. After this experience, he was compelled to reach out to England’s poorest citizens, which he did with the help of his brother, Charles. Their work launched a movement that spread to the American colonies and took hold with a fervor that still exists almost 300 years later.
During that time, our hearts have led us to build almost as many schools as churches, as we were among the first to create institutions of learning for settlers, women, and newly freed slaves. There are now 120 United Methodist institutions, including schools outside the U.S., most notably Africa University in Zimbabwe.
Today, United Methodists comprise the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Our churches are connected by a system to guide our work and govern our policies. We continue to take the lead in social, spiritual, political and moral concerns. In the tradition of John and Charles Wesley, our members study scripture, encourage thoughtful debate, and confront the tough issues of the day. We still lead with our hearts, keep our minds open, and welcome everyone through our doors.