What is a United Methodist?

Today people are more likely to move far away from where they grew up or where their family is located, which means people are more likely to try a new type of church.  Many have grown up without a church affiliation at all!  Finding a church to call home can be confusing.  Our church staff are happy to meet with you to talk one-on-one about questions you may have, but here are some basics that may be useful.

What do United Methodists believe?

St. Paul’s is part of the United Methodist denomination, the second largest Protestant denomination in America, and we uphold our heritage by pursuing ministry in keeping with this tradition. We seek to be generous in spirit, broadminded, devoted to Jesus Christ, and wholly surrendered to God. We strive for personal holiness by inviting people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, and we pursue social holiness in the public sphere by addressing key issues of our time so that our world will look more like the Kingdom of God.

United Methodists share a common heritage with other Christians, holding to the historic essentials of the Christian faith as contained in the early creeds of Christianity. We have a passionate faith with strong convictions, but we also ask questions, wrestle with difficult issues, and strive to do so with grace and compassion. We are “people of the Book,” whose faith is firmly rooted in and built upon the scriptures. We hold the Bible to be divinely inspired and are committed to live by its words and we recognize the Bible was written by people who heard God in the light of their own cultural and historical circumstances. As such, we make use of scholarship and study the scriptures carefully. When we encounter theological differences, we bear in mind John Wesley’s approach, “in essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

We believe the goal of the Christian life is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. From the beginning of the Methodist movement, we were known as “reasonable enthusiasts,” those who are both emotionally and intellectually engaged. We value passionate worship, relevant preaching, small groups to hold Christians accountable to one another, and serving those who are in need. We value the spiritual disciplines and take a “methodical” approach to growing in the faith. United Methodists value the full participation of both women and men and people of all backgrounds in every facet of fellowship and leadership within the church and society.

This is our heritage, and it continues to shape St. Paul’s in every area of our ministry.

For more information about our historic beliefs, click here to read our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith. 

What is the organizational structure of a United Methodist Church?

You may notice other denominations that have the 'Methodist' in their title, but St. Paul's belongs to the United Methodist type of Methodism.  You can tell a lot about the values of an organization based on how it is structured.  We are a part of the Christian religion, and all United Methodist churches together form what is called a denomination.  Our denomination is sort of arranged like the United States of America - there are local churches that together make up a larger body, similar to towns in a county.  Those larger bodies form yet another level of organization, like counties form a state, and so on.  At each level, representatives from the smaller levels talk, pray, and listen to each other to make decisions.  The largest body, the General Conference, has representatives from all over the world and meets every four years.  The delegates to General Conference are both ordained ministers and regular church members.  The United Methodist denomination has some good resources here if you want to read more.  

At St. Paul's our minister and our committees work together to help our church be strong and healthy.  Once a month, representatives from each committee, members-at-large, staff members, and clergy  meet together at Church Council to conduct business of the church.  Minutes from this committee are available to any church member of St. Paul's; inquire at the church office.

Once a year, we have a Charge conference to look at an overview of how our congregation is doing.  Church members are asked to vote at the Charge Conference on the minister's salary.  Once a year, we send a delegation to represent St. Paul's at the denomination's area Annual Conference.