In the past, Christian denominations have had their share of wrong-doings. They have been accused of being unfaithful, uncaring, too bureaucratic and perhaps even too un-christlike. Thus, there has been a rise in a movement to create new, unconnected, non-denominational churches. But here at the United Methodist Church of St. Clair; we are proud to be a part of the United Methodist Church; because we think it’s a little different.
The UMC was founded by a man named John Wesley; a Christian who had a passion for the Gospel and for helping the poor. In fact, he too was fed up with Christian denominations. His own denomination routinely kicked him out of churches for bringing intoxicated, poor, poorly dressed and poorly groomed people into the churches. He would actually invite people laying on the sides of the road to church with him when he went to preach! Not unlike today’s Christians who are fed up with Churches turning a blind eye to those in need and focusing more on their own organizations and systems; John Wesley was fed up with the way things were working. Through his ministry John Wesley was able to be a force for change within his own denomination, and sparked the creation of a whole new worldwide denomination that today embodies the importance of serving the world, and understanding God.
We are proud to be United Methodists, and we would like to think you’d be proud to be a United Methodist, too.
Is the UMC Connectional?
Yes! We’re connectional. That means that our churches all work together on a number of things. Though the churches are independently operated by leaders within the local church, their Pastors are appointed to them and through a system called ‘apportionments’, the churches come together to do extraordinary work around the world. Through programs like “Imagine No Malaria”, the United Methodist Church has helped to slash Malaria deaths in Africa, thanks to our ability to come together and work as one church, even though we are many churches.
Do all United Methodists believe the same things?
Nope! The United Methodist Church has a small handful of official writings and publications; but only one which is authoritative (outside of the Bible of course). That is the “Book of Discipline”. The “Book of Discipline” essentially contains all of the laws and rules of the church. Clergy (Pastors and Deacons) are trained and tested by the denomination before ever being sent to a church; through various boards, seminaries, and schools. So while the Clergy all must agree to the most essential doctrines of the church; we are not a doctrinal church. That means that there is no requirement that our members agree with everything in the Book of Discipline. That doesn’t mean we don’t think our beliefs are important, but it does mean we recognize that people are individuals sacredly created by God and capable of thinking for themselves. They may not align themselves entirely with the Doctrines of the church; and that’s okay. You will find, however, than on a few essential doctrines most United Methodists agree.
What is a United Methodist District Superintendent or Bishop?
District Superintendents (often called “DS’s”) and Bishops are ordained Pastors who have served United Methodist Churches and have been called on by their denomination to lead the denomination. DS’s and Bishops are assigned to particular areas to supervise and oversee the ministries of the church. This includes everything from helping them through a crisis, to appointing Pastors whose particular skills and talents best suit the local church.
Are the churches very formal?
That depends! The UMC is often a fairly liturgical church. But as we recognize the liturgical traditions are just that; traditions, and not anything demanded by scripture; they are mostly optional and vary by individual church and Pastor. In some churches, you may find a Pastor wearing a Clerical Collar, alb (long white robe) or pulpit robe (long stiff robe, often black), or a number of liturgical vestments with a very traditional worship style similar to the styles of the historical church. Or, you might find one wearing blue jeans and a printed Tee-Shirt with a very modern style of worship. At the United Methodist Church of St. Clair, our worship tends to be in the middle. Incorporating classic hymns and occasional liturgies; but without being particularly strict about things one way or another. One this is for sure; no matter the church, you are invited to come as you are!
What if I have more questions?
Great! Our Pastor would love to answer them all (