As United Methodists, we have an obligation to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Church’s life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.
The United Methodist Church is an 11-million-strong global church that opens hearts, opens doors and opens minds through active engagement with our world.
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.
As United Methodists, we are…
A Covenant People
When you join a United Methodist congregation, you become a member of the total United Methodist connection. Members promise God and the congregation to uphold the church with their prayers, presence, gifts, and service.
A Diverse Community
United Methodism was formed when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged in 1968. United Methodists trace their spiritual heritage back to 18th-century leaders including John and Charles Wesley, Jacob Albright, Philip Otterbein, Martin Boehm and Francis Asbury. All persons are welcome in The United Methodist Church. We are firmly committed to inclusiveness. We celebrate a diversity of people, ideas and cultures and are enriched by our broad history.
Biblical in Faith
United Methodists trust free inquiry in matters of Christian doctrine. Our faith is guided by Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. Of paramount importance is Scripture. For United Methodists, the Bible is the record of God’s people living out God’s promise.
Mission-oriented, socially conscious
United Methodists are mission-oriented and socially conscious. This is important to our faith. We are aware of world events and strive to help those in need. United Methodists are one in faith and tradition with Methodist Christians around the world. Through the World Methodist Council, Methodists from 68 member churches cooperate in support of ecumenical, educational, evangelical, and other ministries.
For generations, United Methodists have cooperated with other churches to spread the gospel, care for those in need, alleviate injustice, and foster peace. In national and interfaith groups, United Methodists reach beyond our own churches and our own communities to express concern and to share God’s love with people of many faiths.
For more than 200 years, The United Methodist Church and its predecessor bodies have expressed concern for the worker, the sick, the poor, the orphaned, the aging, the impaired, the oppressed, and the imprisoned. Our church participates in the struggles of women, people with physical and mental impairments, and racial and ethnic minority persons, helping them attain equality in the church, the economy, and society. United Methodists positively influence society through responsible social action.
United Methodism took form as an organized church in this country during the revolutionary period of our history. Its structures parallel those of the United States government. Church leadership is shared by executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Representative bodies carry out church functions at local, regional, and church-wide levels. The highest legislative body— the only organization that can speak for the church—is the General Conference. An assembly of up to 1,000 delegates, it is composed of equal numbers of laity and clergy and meets once every four years. Delegates are chosen by regional units (annual conferences) throughout the United States and in 15 other nations. Non-voting representatives come from affiliated churches in 25 other countries. Annual conferences respond to needs in their regions by developing programs and ministries that carry out the work of Christ and support the policies set by General Conference.
The United Methodist Church continues its strong evangelical heritage. Within each congregation is a vital center of biblical study and evangelism— a blending of personal piety and discipleship.