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A Study of the Methodist Church


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Title: A Study of the Methodist Church

A Study of The Methodist Church
John and Charles Wesley form the Holy Club at
Oxford University due to dissatisfaction with the
formalism of the church of England. Members
established regular habits of Bible Study,
prayer, worship, acts of piety. Practiced very
methodically. Called Methodists by others as a
term of derision.
1744 After growth of Methodism, Wesley organizes
First Conference of Methodist Preachers.
1784 Methodist Episcopal Church formed in
Baltimore, Maryland.
1830 Division over right of laity having power to
make decisions. Methodist Protestant Church
splits off from Methodist Episcopal.
1844 Division over slavery leads to Methodist
Episcopal and Methodist, Episcopal, South.
1939 Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal
South, and Methodist Protestant merge to form the
Methodist Church.
1968 Methodist Church and Evangelical United
Brethren merge to form the United Methodist Church
Other smaller Methodist and Wesleyan Groups
exist. Most of the Methodists in our area will
probably be associated with the United Methodist
Foundational Documents
The Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church
The Confessions of Faith of The Evangelical
United Brethren Church
John Wesleys Sermons and Notes
Governing Document
The Methodist Discipline Contains the
constitution for the church, official church
positions, doctrine and law of the
church.Published every four years after the
General Conference is held. Updated with changes
resulting from decisions made during the General
Methodist view of church
Church Universal (all saved)
Methodist Church
Baptist Churches
Roman Catholic Church
Other Churches
Various denominations are merely different
branches and all make up the Overall
church. United Methodist Church is a part of the
one Catholic (used in the sense of whole or
complete) Church.
Methodist Church Organization
  • Similar to the US Government Balance of Power
    vested in three branches
  • Legislative
  • Executive
  • Judicial

General Conference (Legislative)
Council of Bishops (Executive)
Judicial Council (Judicial)
  • General Conference Legislative
  • Meets Every 4 Years
  • Composed of 600 1000 delegates
  • Half Clergy, Half Laity
  • Elected by Annual Conferences and other UMC Bodies
  • Petitions to change church law or code brought to
    the General Conference.
  • They are assigned to a specific committee
    (depending upon the nature of the petition),
    subcommittee where it may be modified or amended.
    Vote is held to determine if it should be
    forwarded to the General Conference for

  • Jurisdictional and Central Conferences

Annual Conferences refer to both a Geographical
Area as well as their frequency of meeting.
Divided into regions. US Jurisdictional
Conferences North Central, Northeastern,
Southeastern, South Central, Western Non US
Central Conferences Africa, Congo, West Africa,
Central and Southern Europe, Germany, Northern
Europe, Philippines
  • Jurisdictions and Central Conferences further

Southeastern Jurisdictional conference comprised
of regional conferences. Southeastern has 15
annual conferences, including the North Alabama
Annual conference. Each conference is presided
over by a Bishop. The North Alabama Bishop is
William H. Willimon of Birmingham. North Alabama
conference subdivided into 8 Districts. Limestone
County UMC churches are either in the Northwest
or the Northeast districts
  • Jurisdictions and Central Conferences further

Preachers (Clergy) are appointed by the Annual
Conference, not selected by congregations. In
our area, preachers for United Methodist Churches
are appointed by the North Alabama Annual
Conference. Individual churches in our area send
a part of their contribution to the North Alabama
Basis of Faith
But how shall we go about our theological task
so that our beliefs are true to the gospel and
helpful in our lives? In John Wesleys balanced
and rigorous ways for thinking through Christian
doctrine, we find four major sources or criteria,
each interrelated. These we often call our
theological guidelines scripture, tradition,
experience, and reason.
  • In thinking about our faith, we put primary
    reliance on the Bible.
  • The authoritative measure of the truth in our
  • We try to discern both the original intention of
    the text and its meaning for our own faith and

  • Between the New Testament age and our own era
    stand countless witnesses on whom we rely in our
    theological journey.
  • Through their words in creed, hymn, discourse,
    and prayer, through their music and art, through
    their courageous deeds, we discover Christian
    insight by which our study of the Bible is
  • This living tradition comes from many ages and
    many cultures.

  • The broader experience of all the life we live,
    its joys, its hurts, its yearnings.
  • We interpret the Bible in light of our
    cumulative experiences.
  • We interpret our lifes experience in light of
    the biblical message.

  • Finally, our own careful use of reason, though
    not exactly a direct source of Christian belief,
    is a necessary tool.
  • We use our reason in reading and interpreting
    the Scripture.
  • We use it in relating the Scripture and
    tradition to our experience and in organizing our
    theological witness in a way thats internally

Distinguishing Methodist positions that stand in
stark contrast with the Bible
  • UMC generally regarded as pro-choice
  • Official position In continuity with past
    Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts
    of life with life that may justify abortion, and
    in such cases we support the legal option of
    abortion under proper medical procedures. We
    cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of
    birth control, and we unconditionally reject it
    as a means of gender selection.
  • Member of the Religious Coalition for
    Reproductive Choice for 35 Years. Very
    Pro-choice organization.
  • 2/6/09 UMC Website Included a story lauding
    President Obamas decision to lift an abortion
    gag-order on foreign clinics funded by the US

  • Therefore, be it resolved, that The United
    Methodist Church dedicate itself to a ministry of
    Christ-like hospitality and compassion to persons
    of all sexual orientations, and to a vision of
    unity through openness to the spiritual gifts of
    all those who have been baptized into the Body of
    Jesus Christ. Such ministry and openness may
    include welcoming sexual minorities, their
    friends, and families into our churches and
    demonstrating our faith in a loving God a
    willingness to listen and open our hearts to
    their stories and struggles in our churches,
    districts, annual conferences, and General
    Conference encouraging study and dialogue around
    issues of sexuality and praying for all those
    who are in pain and discord over our Christian
    response to this controversial issue.

  • While persons set apart by the Church for
    ordained ministry are subject to all the
    frailties of the human condition and the
    pressures of society, they are required to
    maintain the highest standards of holy living in
    the world. The practice of homosexuality is
    incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore
    self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be
    certified as candidates, ordained as ministers,
    or appointed to serve in The United Methodist
  • Big Point of Debate within the UMC. Many want to
    remove this restriction.

Role of Women
  • We affirm women and men to be equal in every
    aspect of their common life. We therefore urge
    that every effort be made to eliminate sex-role
    stereotypes in activity and portrayal of family
    life and in all aspects of voluntary and
    compensatory participation in the Church and
  • We affirm the right of women to equal treatment
    in employment, responsibility, promotion, and
    compensation. We affirm the importance of women
    in decision-making positions at all levels of
    Church life and urge such bodies to guarantee
    their presence through policies of employment and

Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
  • When a married couple is estranged beyond
    reconciliation, even after thoughtful
    consideration and counsel, divorce is a
    regrettable alternative in the midst of
  • Divorce does not preclude a new marriage.

  • From the Methodist Articles of Religion
  • Article 9Of the Justification of Man
  • We are accounted righteous before God only for
    the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
    by faith, and not for our own works or
    deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by
    faith, only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and
    very full of comfort.
  • Methodists teach we are saved by Faith Only
  • Article 17Of Baptism
  • Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark
    of difference whereby Christians are
    distinguished from others that are not baptized
    but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new
    birth. The Baptism of young children is to be
    retained in the Church.
  • Mode of Baptism is the chosen by the recipient.
    Immersion, Sprinkling, Pouring, (usually

Things to keep in Mind
  • The need for scriptural authority in religion
    is foreign to most Methodists.
  • Many Methodists will not have a thorough
    understanding of the Bible.
  • Most will have very unfavorable views and
    misconceptions of churches of Christ (e.g. dont
    believe Old Testament, dont believe in playing
    music anywhere)

Things to keep in Mind
  • Many Methodists will not agree with official
    church positions on controversial subjects such
    as abortion, homosexuality.
  • Methodists have no issue or problem with having
    John Wesley as founder. In fact, they are proud
    of their Wesleyan heritage.

Things to keep in Mind
  • Methodists churches are very involved in national
    or global social issues. A few examples
    Hurricane Katrina relief, Black History, Helping
    the Homeless, Malaria control, etc.
  • Most official church positions are worded very
    pleasantly and thoughtfully (craftily) so as not
    to offend either side.

Things to keep in Mind
  • Methodist take pride in allowing for differing
    views within their own group.
  • Clergy/Laity distinctions are very strong. Many
    Methodists lay members put much trust in their
    clergy due to their religious education, training
    and leadership.

Things to keep in Mind
  • Local Social activities very much a part of
    Methodist religion. This can be difficult for
    some to give up.
  • Some may make a distinction between the teachings
    of Jesus and those of the apostles.
  • Some may believe God as revealed in the OT is
    different from the NT.

Teaching Methodists
  • Have to prove to them they are lost, that their
    conversion was not valid. This will likely be
    difficult. Many will have experienced as much
    emotion and feeling relative to their conversion
    as you. They will likely be confident of their
  • Have to show the relevancy of the scriptures to
    us today. They will likely assume that customs
    of the day may have affected what is in the
    Bible. You have to prove that it is still
  • Have to show why one church is not as good as
    another. What is the problem with a church
    having a human founder? What are the origins of
    various churches? Have to show that what you are
    asking them to join is not just another man
    made group that also has errors.

Teaching Methodists
  • You may have to use their own Bible. They may
    think you are using your own edited version (such
    as Jehovahs Witnesses or Mormons).
  • You must prove the necessity for religious
    authority but dont quote heres the three ways
    you establish authority like a creed. Be ready
    to show from the Bible why you do/dont do a
    certain thing. Even simple things may be a point
    of discussion. e.g. Where is the authority for
    having decorative plants in your church building?
  • Your own level of commitment (and that other
    Christians) will likely be sensed by the
    individual you are teaching and will have an

Teaching Methodists
  • Need to show that God does not approve of
    religious division.
  • You may have to prove that God is not different
    now from what He was like in Biblical times.
  • You may have to overcome the idea that Methodist
    preachers, due to training in seminaries are
    assumed to have much more knowledge and that
    regular lay people should trust them.
  • You may have to deal with the Bible in terms of
    the generally accepted books and letters versus
    other books that are not considered canon.

What Can We Do?
  • Invite them to a Bible Study. Hold a study in
    your home and invite them to study a book of the
    Bible (e.g. Acts). Gods word is quick and
    powerful and has the ability to convict people
    if we can get them to examine it.
  • Emphasize the Whole Bible Approach. The Bible
    tells one continuous story.
  • Show examples of conversion from the Bible.
    Discuss passages that show what a person must do
    to be saved.
  • Point out how local churches were organized, what
    their work consisted of, their practices and why
    it is important that we follow that pattern.
  • Prove that authority in religion is necessary to
    please God. Show examples from the Bible where
    God expected men to follow the instructions given

What Can We Do?
  • Show from the Bible what constitutes faith. Show
    how we cannot allow our own ideas to change what
    the Bible teaches.
  • Examine your own positions. Know why you believe
    and practice what you do. Continue to study and
  • We are commanded to go into all the world and
    teach. We are given examples of how NT
    Christians went out spreading the word. We will
    give an answer in judgment for our compliance to
    Gods commands.
  • Remember, our goal is not to win an argument or
    get as many people as possible believing the same
    way we do. We are simply trying to convert
    people, and help make more true disciples of
    Christ. Let your speech be seasoned with salt.

Methodist Episcopal Church South, Discipline, 1930
A Methodist Church and its Work, Tippy,
Kern 1918 Statement concerning the work Of the
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