What do we believe?
We are part of the United Methodist Church, which means that our theology is based on the boundless Grace of God, and our personal commitments to both personal piety and social holiness. We believe that God’s grace is freely available to each person, and that human agency lies in accepting God’s justifying Grace.
What do you believe about the Bible?
We believe scripture is a gift from God. We do not necessarily believe the Bible to be inerrant, or literally true, but we do believe that if we apply the collected wisdom of the church together with our own lived reality and reason in interpretation of scripture, those ancient texts will help point us to God’s revelation in Christ Jesus.
Am I really welcome at First UMC?
We don’t know how to put it more simply. You are welcome here. There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus [Romans 8:38-39], and our mission at First UMC is to embody the love of God for all of the world.
Do I have to join to participate?
Absolutely not. We believe that God’s Grace is freely available to all of God’s children, no matter where they are in their faith journey, or if they have yet to begin one. Membership is not required to attend or fully participate, including receiving Communion.
For that matter, neither is baptism.
It is our hope that those who participate will encounter Christ in the gathered community, even if they’ve never encountered Christ before.
How do you understand Communion?
“Holy Communion is remembrance, commemoration, and memorial, but this remembrance is much more than simply intellectual recalling. ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ [Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25] is anamnesis (the biblical Greek word). This dynamic action becomes re-presentation of past gracious acts of God in the present, so powerfully as to make them truly present now. Christ is risen and is alive here and now, not just remembered for what was done in the past.” (from “This Holy Mystery”)
In the ritual, the prayer of Great Thanksgiving intentionally rehearses the entirety of God’s saving acts in history from creation to God’s covenant with Israel, through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. And in this prayer, we seek the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon us and the gifts of bread and wine we bring.
When we receive the bread and wine so “we may be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by his blood,” we are remembering. At the same time, we are also re-membered, put back together again. We pray that we may be “one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.” God’s work of making us one and uniting us with Christ and with each other is the ordinary way by which God feeds us, sustains us and empowers us to live as Christians in the world.
In communion, we do remember the saving work God has already done in the world and is doing today. And we anticipate God’s future for the world and all creation. We’re partners with God in creating this future. We are strengthened and transformed by the presence of Christ in the bread and wine to respond to God’s love by loving God and others.
How do you understand baptism?
United Methodists are glad to baptize people at whatever age or stage they come for baptism. There is no time too soon, and no time too late, to begin one’s journey with Christ and life in the community of faith. Baptism marks the beginning of all of that, whenever it may come in our lives.
And, unlike what some may tell you, just because you are an adult does not mean you have to be ready to profess the baptismal and membership vows yourself in order to receive Christian baptism. You do not.
You may be ready for baptism, just as a baby may be ready to be born, but you may not necessarily be ready at that time to do everything a more mature Christian may do. And that’s OK. It’s perfectly acceptable for a child, youth, adult or senior adult to receive Christian baptism, but not yet take the vows for themselves.
In these instances, just as at the baptism of an infant, one does not yet “speak for oneself” but others — typically parents or other sponsors for an infant, child or youth, or another adult sponsor for an adult — may publicly reaffirm their own baptismal vows and commit to walk with you and work with you until you are ready to confess the vows for yourself and become a professing member in The United Methodist Church.
Baptism is all about beginnings. Whenever you’re ready to begin a life of discipleship to Jesus Christ with the church, and the church is ready to help you take your next steps, that’s a good time to be baptized.