changing lives question and response united methodist church

Questions about The United Methodist Church

Yesterday morning I enjoyed an hour with a small group at Resurrection lead by Nancy. My task was to talk about Methodism – at large. I am passionate about knowing who I am as a United Methodist and helping others claim their identity as well. I began by asking for questions. I sought to respond to each one there and let them know they could check my blog for a short written response as well. So here goes…

  • What are distinguishing features of the United Methodist Church?
    • There are several distinct characteristics of the United Methodist Church. One is the approach to organization which involves Christian conferencing. Another is the understanding of grace:
      • Prevenient – God is at work in our lives before we are aware of it.
      • Justifying – There is a moment when we recognize and claim God’s grace for ourselves.
      • Sanctifying – We are always moving on to Christian perfection, the journey of becoming a deeply committed Christian.
  • Is the UMC connected with Catholicism?
    • There are some similarities in that property is held in trust and priests / preachers are sent to their location.
  • Has there been split or controversy within the denomination?
    • The denomination split around whether or not to have bishops and slavery. Major reconciliation for both of these issues. Today the ordination of homosexuals continues to be a controversy.
  • Why is there a decline and decrease in relevance within the denomination?
    • I believe that we forgot our task of spreading scriptural holiness across the land. No good answer in a couple sentences…
  • Say more about the Moravians.
    • John Wesley learned from the peace he saw a group of Moravians experience during a storm at sea.
  • Is there a connection with the Anglican church?
    • Methodism began as a renewal movement within the Church of England.
  • How are Methodists connected with the Protestant Reformation?
    • The UMC is a protestant denomination
  • How important are saints?
    • One cannot become a United Methodist saint. However, the value of saints, mothers and fathers of the church is of value.

Thanks to the class for great questions and your desire to be on the journey of knowing, loving and serving God. It is an honor to be one of your pastors.

7 replies on “Questions about The United Methodist Church”

This is great Andrew! We are planning on doing a couple of lessons on “Being United Methodist” for the elementary kids next year. I am printing this to add to my resources as I write these lessons. 🙂

Lisa – Thanks. I pulled this together very briefly. What else would be helpful for you? I would be willing and able to pull these together in a bit more ordered way.

I would say that there Is a lot more to how we connect with the Catholic church. In fact I would suggest that of the protestent movements, we are more closely aligned with catholicism than any other movement. Our concept of Grace is quasi catholic, our concept of communion is quasi catholic, our focus on Holiness of heart and life is quasi catholic, our value for Tradition a source of truth is quasi catholic, etc…it goes much deeper than structure – in fact I would say most of our distinctions from traditional protestantism lie in our theological affinity with the Catholic Church.

Chuck – Thanks for the additions. I knew that there was more than what I listed, but was not sure when I was responding in the class, nor when I was writing the post. Thanks for filling in the gaps.

The Protestant denomination most closely alligned to the Roman Catholic Church is the modern Episcopal Church. Although, it seems to me that the UMC is drifting far from its revivalist and regenerate beginnings with the Wesleys, it was never considered akin to Roman Catholicism. In the days of the Wesleys, that assertion would have been considered heretical. It should still be.

A distinction between us Methodists and Catholics is the authority given to the Bishops. Their bishops and the Pope have authority in spiritual matters. Any changes in our church have to come from General Conference. Our Bishops are primarily administrative.


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