The United Methodist Church is a Protestant denomination of more than eight million members that shares with other Protestant churches certain fundamental beliefs:
- that everything needed for our salvation is offered to us by the grace of God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ;
- that the scriptures are the primary source for the stories, faith and message of the church;
- that every individual Christian has immediate access to our Lord and is empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve Christ through the ministry of the church (priesthood of all believers).
We believe that the experience of salvation (justification) is followed by lifelong growth in the love of Christ (sanctification).
We recognize two sacraments—Holy Communion and baptism.
Holy Communion is offered to all people. You do not have to be a member of our church or the United Methodist Church to participate.
Baptism is a sign of the grace of God and the doorway into the shared life of the church. We recognize three methods of baptism—sprinkling, pouring and immersion. We practice infant baptism as a sign of the grace of God for the child, the inclusion of the child in the family of God, and our shared commitment to raise the child in the faith.
We believe in the importance of education, in the church and in the world. We believe also that informed individuals can think for themselves concerning the issues of the day and questions of scriptural interpretation.
Methodism was born in the 18th century as a grassroots spiritual movement of revival and renewal within the Church of England. In those days, many people felt that their membership in the church no longer had meaning in their lives. They appealed to John Wesley, a priest in the Church of England, to help them reconnect with their faith and grow in their relationship with Christ. At the same time, families desperately needed help coping with the pressures and social flux brought by the Industrial Revolution. Wesley and his fellow Methodists preached a gospel of hope and grace to a people who longed for both. Methodism also offered mutual support and accountability through small group ministries and tangible assistance to families struggling with hunger and debt. Education was another key element, as individuals of all ages found the training and discipline they needed to better their lives in a changing world.
The Methodist revival spread throughout the United Kingdom and followed the colonists to America where, in 1784, the Methodist Church was born. Since then, Methodism has grown with America and spread throughout the world. Today, the world truly is our parish.
Our beginning as a spiritual revival and the early Methodist effort to help people with real-world challenges continue to shape who we are as United Methodists. We are a church with a warm heart and helping hands. We proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ for all people, while working to alleviate suffering in the world.
The United Methodist Church is a connectional denomination. We share with other United Methodists vital ministries that we could never accomplish alone as a single church.
For more information on United Methodist history, our denominational structure and our worldwide ministries, go to www.umc.org. For information on the North Georgia Annual Conference, visit www.ngumc.org.