Presentation on theme: "A Study of The Methodist Church. History 1729John and Charles Wesley form the “Holy Club” at Oxford University due to dissatisfaction with the formalism."— Presentation transcript:
History 1729John 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. 1744After growth of Methodism, Wesley organizes First Conference of Methodist Preachers. 1784Methodist Episcopal Church formed in Baltimore, Maryland. 1830Division over right of laity having power to make decisions. Methodist Protestant Church splits off from Methodist Episcopal.
History 1844Division over slavery leads to Methodist Episcopal and Methodist, Episcopal, South. 1939Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal South, and Methodist Protestant merge to form the Methodist Church. 1968Methodist 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 Church.
Foundational Documents The Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church The Confessions of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church John Wesley’s 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 Conference.
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.
Similar to the US Government Balance of Power vested in three branches Legislative Executive Judicial Methodist Church Organization 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 consideration. Organization
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 Organization
Jurisdictions and Central Conferences further subdivided 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 Organization
Jurisdictions and Central Conferences further subdivided 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 Conference. Organization
“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 Wesley’s 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.” Basis of Faith
Scripture “In thinking about our faith, we put primary reliance on the Bible.” “The authoritative measure of the truth in our beliefs.” “We try to discern both the original intention of the text and its meaning for our own faith and life.”
Tradition “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 illuminated.” “This living tradition comes from many ages and many cultures.”
Experience “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 life’s experience in light of the biblical message.”
Reason “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 that’s internally coherent.”
Distinguishing Methodist positions that stand in stark contrast with the Bible
Abortion 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 Obama’s decision to lift an abortion “gag-order” on foreign clinics funded by the US Government
Homosexuality “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.”
Homosexuality “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 Church.” 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 society. 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 recruitment.
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 brokenness. Divorce does not preclude a new marriage.
Salvation From the Methodist Articles of Religion Article 9—Of 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 17—Of 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 sprinkling).
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. don’t believe Old Testament, don’t 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”.
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. Things to keep in Mind
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 salvation. 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 applicable. 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 Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons). You must prove the necessity for religious authority but don’t quote “here’s the three ways you establish authority” like a creed. Be ready to show from the Bible why you do/don’t 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 impact.
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). God’s 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 them.
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 grow. 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 God’s 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 church.