The heart of our Christian faith is the love of Jesus Christ that reaches out to all creation. We are called to serve wherever Christ would have us work to heal and free others through the power of the Holy Spirit. United Methodists believe in God’s grace, which is the unearned, loving action of God in our lives. In spite of suffering, violence, and evil in the world, we believe that God’s grace exists everywhere—in our present struggles to become like Christ and in the future when we will be one with God.
As United Methodists, we believe that we receive God’s saving love as a free gift, working through our faith, which is also a gift from God. As creatures with free will, we can continue to sin (literally, “miss the mark”) after we have accepted God’s love, but forgiveness also continues to be available to us when we repent (turn around and refocus on God).
We practice spiritual disciplines that open us to awareness of God’s gift of love already at work within us and the mystery of God’s power and freedom. These disciplines include the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, along with prayer, study of the Scriptures, thoughtful debate, fasting or abstinence, good works, and service. For United Methodists, good works are the evidence of our living faith—the “fruit that will last” as we love and serve God and neighbor (see John 15).
With all Christians, we believe in the reality of God’s reign (God is in charge); that we are saved through the love of God, the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. All Christians are part of Christ’s body, the church. Scripture has authority for us, although beliefs vary on the nature of that authority, from the literal word of God to a divinely inspired guide to the faith story. People find different means and methods effective in encountering God. The United Methodist Church welcomes all who desire to know God in Christ and seek to love and serve God and neighbor; to attend our churches, receive the Lord’s Supper, be baptized and admitted into membership; and to go out to be the hands, heart, and mind of Christ for the world. United Methodist churches are connected by a system that guides our work and governs our policies. We continue to take the lead in social, spiritual, political, and moral concerns. We strive to lead with our hearts, keep our minds open, and welcome all who wish to love and serve in the name of Christ.