What We Believe

Quick Faith FAQ:

from Rethink Church 

 

What is the difference between The United Methodist Church and a non-denominational church?

United Methodists are strengthened by a worldwide connection – 11.5 million members – that allows us to take action locally, regionally, and globally. For instance, when the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in Jan. 2010, the church’s relief arm (UMCOR) kicked into action. It mobilized thousands of churches to create health kits, rapidly raised more than $1 million in direct relief aid, and sent teams of front-line responders to Haiti. This network of people and churches allows us to advocate with a stronger voice on important policy matters, hold our pastors and leaders accountable, support major colleges and universities, and more. We believe that we’re stronger together than we are alone.

What is the difference between United Methodists and groups like Baptists and Catholics?

Each of these groups is Christian and believes in the Bible. Historically, both United Methodists and Baptists trace their roots to the Protestant Reformation, a 16th century doctrinal separation from the Roman Catholic Church. United Methodists do not have a Pope figure; instead, a body of elected leaders – similar to the U.S. congress – convenes every four years to set the church’s priorities. This organizational system differs from Baptists, whose congregations are more independent. United Methodists have been known as a denomination strongly involved with people’s lives and related struggles. This involvement is an expression of the personal change we experience when we become Christians.

How do United Methodists view non-Christian faiths?

United Methodists recognize that we’re not alone in this world and that it’s vital to strengthen inter-faith relationships through dialogue and action. For example, United Methodists have adopted a resolution to work with Muslims “to address common problems and concerns.” One result has been a partnership with British Muslim charities to provide aid to countries affected by disaster, poverty and conflict, such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Is there diversity in The United Methodist Church?

Local churches mirror the communities in which we live. Within our walls you’ll find United Methodists of every nationality, race, age, and background. Our doors are open to everyone, and many churches have ministries which reach out specifically to groups that they believe have been shunned and overlooked by mainstream society.

Does The United Methodist Church support political parties or candidates?

Look no further than two United Methodist First Ladies – Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush – to see that United Methodists are both Democrats and Republicans. The United Methodist Church supports no single political party, but advocates on legislative issues that are core to our beliefs, such as women’s rights and addressing HIV/AIDS. United Methodists from both sides of the aisle come together every four years to examine the beliefs and statements on which the church’s advocacy is based. Every United Methodist has a voice in this process through his or her elected delegate.

What happens at a United Methodist church service?

Our services are as diverse as our membership. Typically an hour in length, United Methodist services include a sermon or message that expands upon a text within the Bible, as well as music. Depending upon the church, the music can take many forms: from an organ, to a rock band, to a gospel choir – even among different services at the same church. People dress in a variety of styles, and services might be offered in multiple languages.

Am I expected to give money to the church, and is this part of its focus?

There is no requirement that a visitor contribute to the church. However, members’ gifts enable the church to carry out its local mission – from providing meals to the homeless and malnourished, to sponsoring literacy programs, to paying utility bills, to providing sub-zero sleeping bags for the homeless. Additionally, United Methodist churches annually pool a small portion of the gifts that they receive so that the church can carry out work collectively, such as funding Africa University, Zimbabwe’s first private, international university.

 


 

The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches, such as Shiloh UMC, provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs. At Shiloh UMC our ministers include everyone attending and participating in the life of our family of faith; our pastor and staff are called to help others put into practice the ministries to which they are called.

As United Methodists, we have an obligation to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Church’s life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.

John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodism, believed that the core of Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. For United Methodists:

  1. Scripture is considered the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine;
  2. Tradition is experience and the witness of development and growth of the faith through the past centuries and in many nations and cultures;
  3. Experience is the individual’s understanding and appropriating of the faith in the light of his or her own life; and,
  4. Through reason the individual Christian brings to bear on the Christian faith discerning and cogent thought.

These four elements taken together bring the individual Christian to a mature and fulfilling understanding of the Christian faith and the required response of worship and service.

 

UMC Social Responsibilities

The United Methodist Church is an 11-million-strong global church that opens hearts, opens doors and opens minds through active engagement with our world.

United Methodists connect with one another to put their faith into action. We recognize our responsibility to place a high priority on strengthening economic, political, social, and technological lifestyles to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world. United, we are an active voice on issues around the world and a moving force behind solutions.

Taking an active stance in society is the example set by the founder of modern United Methodism, John Wesley (and his brother, Charles). He set the example of combining personal and social engagement leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.

We are known as a denomination involved with people’s lives, with political and social struggles, having both local and international mission initiatives. Such involvement is an expression of the personal change we experience through our United Methodist faith.

The United Methodist Church believes God’s love for the world is an active and engaged love, a love seeking justice and liberty. Through education, advocacy and action, the United Methodist Church seeks to understand the full range of economic and environmental issues, offer resources to help people of faith live into the biblical vision of wholeness and justice, and encourage engagement with policymakers and other decision-makers to change unjust systems which destroy God’s creation and harm God’s people.

Rule of Life
18th cent. aphorism attributed to John Wesley

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

At Shiloh United Methodist Church, we believe that being Christ’s church is about two things: love of God and love of neighbor; everything else is just a footnote (Matthew 22:36-40).

 

Holy Communion

At Shiloh United Methodist Church we celebrate Open Communion every week, at each of our two Sunday morning worship services (8 am & 10 am), meaning we invite everyone to participate. You do not have to be a member of our church or any church.

Our Communion table is open to anyone who seeks to respond to Christ’s love and seeks to lead a new life of peace and love. As The United Methodist Book of Worship states, “All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup. We have no tradition of refusing any who present themselves desiring to receive” (page 29). This statement means that in practice there are few, if any, circumstances in which a United Methodist pastor would refuse to serve the elements of Holy Communion to a person who comes forward to receive. It is the Lord’s Supper, not ours, and it is Christ who invites you. As our ritual puts it: “Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.” Whether or not you should receive Communion with us is between you and God.

 

Holy Communion Weekly