A Brief Summary
God loves you, and there is forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. We study Scripture (The Bible) as the Word of God. We believe that God calls each person to a life that is full of meaning and purpose, and we work together in the church to grow our faith.
We are committed to loving God with our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We live that out through three simple rules 1) Do no harm (we work to avoid sin in our lives), 2) Do good (we practice the teachings of the Bible as it guides us in goodness), 3) Stay in love with God (through worship and through a variety of ways that we call “spiritual disciplines”).
More detail is provided below, in the hope that it will help answer questions and share a fuller picture of our church family.
What we Believe
We are a United Methodist Church, and our foundational documents are the Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Confession of Faith, the General Rules of the Methodist Church, as well as John Wesley’s Selected Sermons, and Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament.
Here is a brief summary of key points in those documents:
About God and the Church
- We believe in the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and we believe Jesus Christ to be the incarnate Son of God.
- We believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, is the true rule and guide for faith and practice, and contains all things necessary to salvation.
- We believe that God truly loves humanity in spite of our willful sin, and that through faith in Jesus Christ we are forgiven, reconciled to God, and transformed as a people of the new covenant.
- We believe that God’s love for us is realized in human life by the activity of the Holy Spirit, both in personal experience and in the community of believers.
- We believe that the church is universal (bigger than just Downs UMC) and when we participate through sacraments like Baptism and Communion we join with not just our own church but with all who claim the name of Christ.
- We believe that the church is open to all who earnestly seek God, and that it is supposed to be an example of the Kingdom of Heaven here on this earth.
Our Methodist Heritage
- We have our own Methodist (or Wesleyan, from John Wesley) way of talking about faith and salvation. We’re big fans of the grace (the generous gift) of God. We believe it calls us to faith, justifies and assures us, and empowers us to walk in the way of Christ.
- Even though faith is all that is needed for salvation, we believe that our good works are the primary way that we respond to, thank, and show love to the God who saves. In fact “good works” are often the evidence that someone has accepted Christ.
- We believe that the church should be at work in the world. Scriptural holiness entails more than personal piety; love of God is always linked with love of neighbor and a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world. The church should be at work in mission and service, and we work to do so.
- We summarize the responsibilities and duties of all Christians into three areas, sometimes called the “three simple rules”
- Christians commit to do no harm. We commit to avoid sin, and to repent and seek forgiveness when we fail to do so. We understand that sin causes harm to the self and to others, and that it damages our relationship with God.
- Christians commit to do good. In the truest definition of the word, good as defined by God in scripture. These can be the smallest simplest acts of generosity and kindness, or can be a place where we join together with others or the church to do good on a scale we could never accomplish on our own.
- Christians commit to stay in love with God. We do this by attending worship, participating in the sacraments, practicing spiritual disciplines, and reading scripture. Our relationship with God is maintained by these practices and we commit to keep that relationship strong.
- We use a process for discernment (recognizing what is good and Godly), ideally looking for agreement in all areas.
- We consult scripture as the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine
- We consider the wealth of Christian tradition that we have inherited.
- We consider our own human experience, both individual and corporate
- We use our God given reason to test and seek clarity.
How We Live
Our particular tradition of Christianity has a very practical focus. Beginning with John and Charles Wesley during the English industrial revolution, Methodists have always worked to put into practice what we believe. This moves us out into the world through mission and service in a wide variety of ways. The early Methodists ran schools, and orphanages. We work here in downs to serve those in need, and as a global movement we are active in mission around the world! Our church has over 60% volunteer participation in service because we understand that lessons of faith can be learned in a classroom or through a book, but they only really take root and grow when they are practiced individually or together as a church.