The United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church traces its roots back to the eighteenth century and the leadership of a Church of England minister named John Wesley. Today, 8.5 million United Methodists live in the United States and another 1.5 million worldwide. The mission of the United Methodist Church is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” As United Methodists, we have several distinct features. One is our emphasis on God’s grace for salvation, redemption, and its place in the whole life of faith. Our life in Christ is a gift from God and cannot be bought or earned. We also believe that we must live our faith in the world by serving, sharing, and giving. This “social gospel” helps us to express our faith in what we say and do.
THE CROSS AND FLAME
The United Methodist Church is symbolized by the cross and flame. This symbol was adopted in 1968 when the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The cross represents Jesus and the flame stands for the Holy Spirit. The two tongues of fire not only symbolize the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost (Acts 2), but also the two branches of the church that merged in 1968. This symbol is recognizable around the world.
THE CHURCH YEAR
Our worship follows the Common Calendar of the Christian year and the Common Lectionary. The Christian year begins with the first Sunday of Advent and proceeds through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter to Pentecost. In so doing, we follow the events of Jesus’ life and the founding of the Church. The period from Pentecost to the beginning of Advent is called Ordinary time because there are no major festival days. During ordinary time, we focus on growing as Christian disciples. Each season has a color: purple, white, red, or green. You will notice that various symbols and fabric in the sanctuary follow these colors. The Lectionary provides us a three year cycle of four Bible lessons (Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle, and Gospel) for each Sunday of the year. These readings cover the major stories and themes of the Bible over three years. At various times during the year we also offer thematic sermon series’, that highlight important topics in the life of faith.
During worship there can be one or multiple readings from The Holy Bible. We believe that the Bible is God’s word to us and tells the story of the people of God throughout the ages. The Bible provides helpful instruction to our lives , inspires us by the Holy Spirit, and deepens our relationship with the living God. The Bible is divided into two major parts, the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). During a traditional service, there will be four readings, two from the OT and two from the NT. The OT reading might be a selection from the law or the prophets. The other OT reading is a Psalm (meaning song), which sounds like poetry. The NT readings will include a Gospel lesson (meaning good news), which is the story of Jesus’ life on earth (books are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The other NT reading is called an Epistle (meaning letter). All of these readings have powerful truths and wisdom for us to learn. If you would like to follow along, you can use your own Bible or a pew Bible in the pew rack in front of you. The pew Bible is divided into the OT and NT and the page number of the section are printed in the bulletin so you can find it easily during worship. For instance, if the reading says, “Mark 1:1-8, NT p. 34, then you turn to the second half of your pew Bible (the New Testament) and find page 34. There you will find the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark and we will read verses 1-8. All of the books of the Bible are organized with chapters and verses so you can find your way. The United Methodist Church typically uses the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which is a direct translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts.