The United Methodist Denomination

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

The people of the United Methodist denomination are part of the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States.  Our worldwide United Methodist connection includes approximately 12.5 million members, with approximately seven million of those being in the United States.  

The United Methodist denomination was formed in 1968 when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged.  We trace our heritage, however, back to the Wesleyan movement begun in 1729 in England by John and Charles Wesley. 

Since its birth as a denomination in 1968, United Methodism has become increasingly aware of itself as a world church with members and conferences in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States.  

The United Methodist Church has struggled with a number of critical issues. It has created and refined theological and mission statements. It has discussed and acted on matters of social importance such as nuclear power and world peace, the environment, abortion, AIDS, evangelism, and world mission. 

The United Methodist denomination has endeavored to become a community in which all persons, regardless of racial or ethnic background, can participate in every level of its connectional life and ministry.  An increasing number of women have been admitted to the ordained ministry, appointed to the district superintendency, elected to positions of denominational leadership, and consecrated as bishops. In 1980 Marjorie Matthews was the first woman elected to the Church's episcopacy as a Bishop. 

Below, you will find a brief list of some of the distinctive characteristics of our denomination. The United Methodist denomination is: 

Global: Today we speak many languages and live in many countries - with different cultures, ethnic traditions, national histories and understandings of Christian faith and practice. 

Connectional: Every United Methodist congregation is interconnected throughout the denomination via a unique, interlocking chain of conferences. The United Methodist denomination practices representative democracy in its governance.  Conferences elect delegates who are authorized to act and vote on matters of church policy and administration.  

Inclusive: All persons are welcome to attend our churches, receive Holy Communion and are eligible to be baptized and become members. 

Grounded in Scripture: United Methodists trust free inquiry in matters of Christian doctrine. Our faith is guided by Scripture, tradition, experience and reason. Of paramount importance, however, is Scripture as the witness of God’s creating, redeeming and sustaining relationship with God’s people.  

Wesleyan: The United Methodist denomination has a Wesleyan heritage, and as such, places an emphasis on mind and heart (knowledge and vital piety) and putting faith and love into practice (life). 

Concerned about Social Justice: For more than 200 years, The United Methodist denomination and its predecessor bodies have expressed concern for God’s children everywhere -  the poor, the orphaned, the aging, the sick, the oppressed and the imprisoned.  

Mission-Oriented: Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  In uncomplicated terms, this means we strive to nurture followers of Christ who then reach out and teach others, through their actions, service and words, about the love of Jesus.  

Ecumenical: United Methodists consider dialogue and missional cooperation between United Methodists and other Christians as a valid witness to the unity of the body of Christ.

For more information on the United Methodist Church, we encourage you to visit
www.umc.org.