What are the basic beliefs of the Methodist Church

Typically methodistic

"Think and let think" is a guideline for Methodists to talk about faith, about life, about God and the world. Conversations with people of other faiths and about their beliefs should also be conducted naturally and respectfully.

For Methodists - as for all Christians - the Bible is the basis of their faith and thus the starting point for reflection and open and generous encounters with other people. The message of the Bible, which has been written by many people from different peoples, cultures and epochs over a period of about a thousand years, has to be re-opened for the respective time. In the process of theological work to understand the Bible and Christian tradition, there are always different views. They are discussed and often lead to a better understanding of the biblical statements. We trust that God will give those who ask and open up to him his spirit through which they can understand God's word. That is why theology is not a task only for specialists, but for all Christians.

Gospel for the people in their respective times

The most important person in the Bible is Jesus of Nazareth. He didn't just speak of God. His actions and the giving of his life on the cross testify to God's love and closeness to all people. This is where the heart of the Christian faith beats. The gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, has since been carried to all countries of the world. So that people in other countries, cultures and epochs can understand the biblical message, the text must be translated and interpreted for readers and listeners. Unlocking this ancient message for people in their respective times is an important part of the theological work.

God in our world, in our life

The United Methodist Church continues to develop its theology and teaching through discussions. A worldwide network of conferences serves the exchange and the decision about what is to be considered as official doctrine in the church. The theologians incorporate the insights from such encounters into their work, discuss them in universities and communities and put them into practice. What is special about theology is to bring old insights and traditions into connection with current experiences and knowledge. We ask: Where is God in our world, in our life? How can we experience and recognize it - especially by studying the Bible in connection with our lives? What does it mean for us to live in relationship with God? What we then recognize, we can formulate and try to implement according to our understanding. This task is never finally completed.

Theology begins where life is lived

New insights and experiences can lead to the gospel being brought up in different words and images. This brings theological work closer to its goal: to convey the message of God's love, of its liberating and healing power, in an understandable and convincing way. Theology begins where life is lived: where people laugh or complain, live in relationships or endure loneliness. Sometimes we have the impression that God is silent or not there at all. That is why theology must be open to the fact that and how God speaks to people today. Your task is to listen to God's voice in the Bible and in the world we live in. Theology aims to facilitate understanding so that people can recognize God, entrust themselves to him and live with him.

A pioneer church on horseback had gradually become a medium-sized church. The social commitment was at times heavily forgotten. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Methodists wrote their own social conscience in their family books.

The "industrial revolution" that started in England reached the USA in the middle of the 19th century. The newly emerging factories, steel works and mines had a huge need for workers - an enormous flight from the countryside to the industrial centers began. Within a short time the working masses found themselves in hopeless impoverishment. Three major strikes in 1877, 1886 and 1894 to raise wages and improve working conditions were brutally suppressed. Although John Wesley's social initiatives could and should have served as a model, the Methodist Church in the USA, which was already great at that time, did nothing at all in the face of this misery.

Recognize need and act

New beginnings in the church often come from "lateral thinkers" who recognize a need and act on it. The Methodist pastor Frank Mason North founded the Methodist Federation for Social Service in 1907 with four colleagues. At the general conference in 1908 they submitted a motion for a "Social Confession of the Methodist Episcopal Church". To a complete surprise, the general conference delegates accepted the proposal! For the first time in church history a Christian church had decided on a "social commitment".
This social creed also had an impact in other Protestant churches, which - in some cases in a different form - adopted it. It served as an important impetus for the work of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America.

Social commitment and social principles

At the general conference of the United Methodist Church in 1972, a fundamental reformulation and renaming took place. Within the church, the term "confession" had already been taken offense several times because it generally combined the old church confessions and those of the Reformation. In line with this tradition of confession, the short "social confession" was formulated. It is an avowed self-commitment in liturgical form, which is used in Methodist worship services and in special liturgical celebrations. The original social creed was further developed into more detailed »social principles«. In six main and around 60 sub-chapters, positions are taken on burning social issues. The social principles are revised every four years at general conference sessions. A position is taken on newly emerging developments in the social, technical and economic areas. Over the years, there have been comments on military operations as a means of politics, on the responsibility of nationally or globally operating corporations, on information and genetic technology and other topics.
The Social Principles are guidelines that encourage responsible social action on the basis of biblical foundations. Methodist basic convictions and social reality are brought into conversation with one another - in the spirit of Jesus Christ, who called people to follow him and trusted them to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

"The social confession" (liturgical confession text)

We believe in God, the creator of the world,
and in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all created things,
and in the Holy Spirit through whom we know God's gifts.
We confess that we have often misused these gifts,
and repent of our guilt.
We testify that the natural world is God's work of creation.
We want to protect them and use them responsibly.
We gratefully accept the possibilities of human community.
We stand up for the rights of every individual
for meaningful development in society.
We stand for the right and duty of all people,
to contribute to the well-being of the individual and society.
We stand up for overcoming injustice and need.
We are committed to working for global peace
and stand up for justice and justice among the nations.
We are ready to share our life opportunities with the disadvantaged.
We see it as an answer to God's love.

We acknowledge God's word
as a yardstick in all human matters
now and in the future.
We believe in God's present and ultimate victory.
We accept his commission to live the gospel in our world.

Publications on the subject

The Social Confession of the United Methodist Church
History, current importance, impulses for the community.

Edited by Lothar Elsner, Ulrich Jahreiß and others.
110 pages, hardcover, 2008
Edition Ruprecht, ISBN 3-7675-7099-3
To order in the EmK shop or in bookstores.

Social principles of the United Methodist Church
Version 2008/2010. UMC forum 36
60 pages, paperback, 2010
Media work of the Evangelical Methodist Church, ISBN 978-3-940463-15-9
To order in the EmK shop or in bookstores. Or download it here.

"My parish is the world," said the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley (1703-1791). In his missionary work he did not want to be restricted to parish boundaries, a region and not even to a country or a state.

To this day, this global view on the one hand and the close ties between the parishes on the other hand are one of the special features of the Methodist Church. The church order, officially "Constitution, Doctrine and Order of the Evangelical Methodist Church" applies equally to all congregations worldwide. There are regional adjustments in detailed questions, but the teaching and regulatory principles apply equally to everyone. The United Methodist Church calls this bond "Konnexio" - in the spirit of John Wesley and his statement "My parish is the world".

See also: Konnexio - Church in the Network

Whoever belongs belongs to it everywhere

Church members in the United Methodist Church always belong to the United Methodist Church, which is organized around the world. Admission takes place in a specific local congregation, but it always means belonging to the worldwide Evangelical Methodist Church. Anyone who moves, even across national borders, does not leave and then re-enter, but is transferred, even worldwide if necessary.
The same goes for pastors. Even if Germany is divided into three conference areas, a pastor can move from East Friesland to the Black Forest. Even a pastoral move to Nigeria or the Philippines is at least without problems under canon law. All bishops of the Church meet twice a year for the Council of Bishops. There they inform each other and advise on spiritual aspects and missionary tasks. They develop guidelines, give recommendations and thus initiate missionary activities and spiritual impulses all over the world.

Worldwide cooperation

Many of the Church's tasks could not be performed by Methodist Churches in the individual countries. Worldwide cooperation is of great help here. The General Board of Global Ministries is based in Atlanta, in the US state of Georgia, and coordinates worldwide work from there. Your aid organization UMCOR supports people in need of help, churches and states in the respective areas worldwide in the event of health and economic crises on behalf of the Evangelical Methodist Church.

Give and take

The United Methodist churches around the world are linked by a network of partnerships. The United Methodist Church in Germany has partnerships with Mozambique, Liberia, Zimbabwe and Brazil, among others. Partnership here means a mutual give and take. A German doctor can work in Mozambique and a pastor from Brazil in a German congregation. Another excellent example of partnership is the “Network TRAMPOLIN”, which was established in Germany in 2016, for social welfare projects for children and youth in congregations of the United Methodist Church. This network was inspired by a project that had been working in the Methodist Church in Brazil for years. There, basic projects for children and young people in Methodist congregations are networked under the name "Shadow and Fresh Water". The Methodist Church in Brazil is understandably proud that "mission" once turned in the opposite direction in this way.

Networked training

It has always been important for Methodists to give people a good education. There are more than 2,000 United Methodist Churches worldwide, from elementary schools to universities. In the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU), 775 educational institutions worldwide are linked and cooperate with one another.
This worldwide collaboration makes it possible to bring projects into being that are not restricted to one country. In 1992, the Africa University was opened in Mutare in Zimbabwe in southern Africa. Today more than 1,300 people from 22 countries study there in seven faculties.

"Come all, come to God's feast!" The Lord's Supper in the United Methodist Church is celebrated as an open Lord's Supper. Believers and seekers, adults and children, are invited.

The Lord's Supper is the center of Christian community. Jesus shared bread and wine with the marginalized and sinners without asking them to confess their faith. He invites them all to show at his table: God takes a template, he comes to meet us and gives what can fill us. Just as Jesus ate and drank at the Lord's Supper with his disciples, he also invites people to his table in the community today. This is why the Methodist Church speaks of the "table of the Lord" or the "Lord's Supper" and not of an "altar". This emphasizes the Lord's Supper as the center of communion with Christ.

"Everyone can go to the Lord's Supper"

For the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, the example of Jesus had consequences: From the beginning, not only Christians were admitted to the Lord's Supper, that is, not only people who were firmly in the faith or who were established members of the Church. Every person who longs for God was invited. Everyone should "taste and see how friendly the Lord is". This is also expressed in many Methodist songs about the Lord's Supper: "Come all, come to God's feast, to which he is inviting you now," wrote Charles Wesley, the brother of John and songwriter of the Methodist movement. "No one should stand outside now, anyone can go to the Lord's Supper." Therefore, the Open Supper is still open today in the Evangelical Methodist Church.

The desire to meet God is enough

John Wesley realized that Jesus Christ was inviting the sacrament, not the church. Christ invites everyone to his table: children and adults, women and men, baptized or not. To be worthy to receive the sacrament is not a matter of deep faith, moral flawlessness, or proper understanding of the sacrament. It lies in knowing that you are needy and wanting to meet God. That's enough.

All that remains is the question of longing for God: “Do I want fellowship with Jesus Christ? Am I looking to strengthen my faith? ”Anyone who can answer“ yes ”to these questions is welcome at the Lord's table.

The United Methodist Church practices child and adult baptism. Baptism and membership of the Church are like two sides of the same coin.

Christian faith is essentially based on relationship, in a special way on the healing restoration of relationships. It is about the healed relationship with God, with others and with myself. In the Evangelical Methodist Church, therefore, God's gracious work is always emphasized during baptism, through which relationships can be healed, whether small children, young people or adults are baptized become. In the Bible, baptism is always the symbol of the restored relationship with God and the turning away from relationships through which people have distanced themselves from God. People experience this like a "spiritual birth". Something new is beginning.

Baptism of children and adults

When infants or young children are baptized, they are accepted as church members into the fellowship of church and congregation. But for the step into full membership, a personal yes to faith in Jesus Christ and to the Church is expected from them later. If people are baptized as young people or adults, then at the same time baptism is associated with acceptance into the membership of the Church. For in baptism these people profess their faith, which connects them with the community of believers. The step into membership involves answering several questions in public. Those who say yes to these questions commit themselves, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, to responding to God's dealings with their own lives.

Like two sides of the same coin

Even if today, for many people, baptism in childhood and acceptance into the membership of the Church are several years apart, they still belong together. They are like the embossing on both sides of a coin. In baptism as a child and in acceptance into membership of the Church, both sides are emphasized, but with different weightings. When a child is baptized, God's action for us and for us becomes clear above all. The main emphasis in membership is our human response and our actions towards God.Only when the medal is embossed on both sides is it complete and valid. Only when a person responds to God's attention offered in baptism by turning his own life under God's guidance does baptism achieve its goal.

Questions about membership of the Church (PDF | 39 KB)

"Find a yes"

Under this title, questions about admission to church membership are dealt with on two pages each in seven chapters. A detailed text provides information on the topic of the chapter (trust, repentance, following, the Bible, etc.). Further elements are used for personal discussion of the topic and for additional information or continuation. The appendix contains the résumés of John and Charles Wesley, an overview of the spread of Methodism in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the description of the organizational structure of the UMC and a map of the world with information on the spread of Methodist churches. Although the booklet was specially developed to guide groups in preparation for membership in the church, it is also well suited for self-study and personal information

Find a YES. Admission to the United Methodist Church
32 pages, paperback, 2013
Media work of the Evangelical Methodist Church, ISBN 978-3-940463-25-8
Order in the EmK shop or in bookstores
Partial view (PDF | 9 MB)

Schooling and education was out of the question for many children in England in the middle of the 18th century. They had to contribute to the livelihood of their families.

Many working-class children in England in the mid-18th century were welcome workers in the mines because of their small size in the low tunnels. On the other hand, because of their small and dexterous fingers, they are used in the many weaving mills of the beginning industrialization. Many of the children work and sleep in the factories six days a week - school and training were out of the question.

The "small, wild society"

People had got used to the plight of children - not Hannah Ball (1734-1792). She wants to get the children off the street at least on their free day, Sunday, and teach them to read and write: This is how her first "Sunday School" comes into being. Hannah Ball is a tough woman. She had read some sermons by the Irish-born Methodist preacher Thomas Walsh. Then she saw John Wesley at a sermon in her village. Impressed by the message of these two, she sought and found her "peace with God" at the age of 32. Like others who found a living relationship with Christ "with the Methodists", she too wants to live her faith in a very practical way. In her poor huts she seeks out sick people who have no medical care. She also takes care of imprisoned prisoners of war, who at that time often just vegetated in prisons. She had been living her faith in this way for five years when she - the story goes back to 1770 - noticed the large number of children who were not looked after by anyone. As an unmarried woman, Hannah Ball begins to invite this "small, wild company", as she affectionately calls it, to her house every Sunday and Monday.

Ahead of the times

Hannah Ball not only shows these children love, she also teaches them to read and write. Using what was often the only book available at the time, the Bible, she carried out this plan. For the first time, these children receive the basics of a school education and are also instructed in the faith "on the side". That was completely new at the time. There is no known role model for this "Sunday and Monday school" in the whole country. Ten years later, in 1780, the newspaper publisher Robert Raikes (1735-1811) suggested the establishment of so-called "Sunday schools" on a large scale. He finances this work and publicizes the idea in the country with his »Gloucester Journal«. Later he will be called "Father of Sunday School". The story of the "mother of Sunday school," Hannah Ball, who had worked before him, is only rediscovered by the 39 surviving letters that she wrote to John Wesley at the time.

Sunday school and children's services

In principle, Sunday school work is maintained and developed in all Methodist congregations and the various Methodist churches around the world to this day. In Germany, instead of the Sunday school offering for children, which sounds very much like "school", the term "children's worship" is being used more and more for the Sunday offering for children parallel to the worship service for adults.

Children's work of the UMC

In the Evangelical Methodist Church there are church lessons for young people, comparable to the biblical lessons in other free churches or the confirmation lessons of the Protestant churches.

Church classes usually last two years and are aimed at young people between the ages of 12 and 14. At the end of the lesson, a festive service is celebrated in which the young people are blessed for their future path in life. That is why the service is often referred to as a "blessing". A personal creed is not expected from the young people.


In the United Methodist Church, the answer to God's action in the form of a personal creed is only publicly expressed in front of the congregation upon acceptance into membership of the church. From a formal point of view, therefore, the church service at the end of church lessons is not comparable with the regional church confirmation, but the service for acceptance into membership of the church.

Further information: www.emk-ku.de

"If your heart is sincere to me as my heart is to your heart, then give me your hand!" - With this statement by John Wesley, Methodists were born with ecumenical openness.

From the earliest days of the Methodist movement, respectful cooperation and sincere encounters with people of other spiritual or ecclesiastical sentiments were a matter of course. Love for God and respect for one another are sufficient to enable such togetherness. It is part of the heritage of the United Methodist Church that she seeks dialogue with all Christians, regardless of which church or denomination they belong to. Methodists are characterized by the fact that they do not distinguish themselves from others through the forms of their faith and their teaching, but rather look for ways to one another and with one another. The interlocutors do not have to agree on all questions of biblical teaching and practical piety. Where the love of God and the "sincere heart" provide orientation, boundaries can be bridged. That is why Methodists always shake hands in ecumenical cooperation and were and are involved in many ecumenical processes.

Pulpit and communion fellowship

The Methodist Church has been linked to the Protestant regional churches in Germany since 1987 through a pulpit and communion community. In addition, in some areas of Germany it is possible to switch between the Evangelical regional churches and the Evangelical Methodist Church in the form of a transfer, which no longer requires an exit. This expresses mutual recognition and appreciation, which emphasizes togetherness and no longer promotes competition or even differentiation.

The Methodist Church takes part in all ecumenical dialogues through the World Council of Methodist Churches. She is also a member of the World Council of Churches. In 2006 the World Council of Methodist Churches signed the joint declaration on the doctrine of justification with the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.

At the European level, the United Methodist Church has signed the Charta Oecumenica and, as a church with a Protestant character, is a member of the »Community of Evangelical Churches in Europe« (CPCE, formerly »Leuenberg Agreement«).

The Methodist Church is a member of the Working Group of Christian Churches in Germany and the Association of Evangelical Free Churches and works in the Evangelical Alliance.

Ecumenical links

Methodist meetinghouses and churches provide space for faith and life. Church services are celebrated in them on Sunday, there is church coffee or community lunch after the service and during the week the various groups of the community meet there.

"To the church one floor up", such a sign can be found in some congregations of the United Methodist Church. Services are celebrated there on the first floor of the community center. On the ground floor there are group rooms, a communal kitchen or a communal hall.

In the early days of the Methodist movement, building was appropriate, or certain building regulations had to be met. The first parishes were mostly not allowed to build "churches" in the traditional sense, only chapels. Church towers with bells ringing were out of the question. That was reserved for the two established churches. In some cities the communities built in backyards and in rows of houses because it was not allowed otherwise. Elsewhere, such buildings were only permitted outside of the previous urban development.

Churches as spaces for living

After 1945, many churches destroyed in the war had to be rebuilt. When rebuilding and building new buildings, the Methodists paid attention to what they needed for church life. One of the unwritten building rules, of course, could be summarized as follows: "Church with kitchen". This reflects how Methodists understand their faith: in worship they come together to praise and celebrate God. This communion with God leads to a sustainable communion with one another, which is also consciously open to outsiders. This requires suitable rooms for a wide variety of purposes: to make music, for social engagement, for groups of children and young people, groups of women and men, discussion groups about the Bible and other offers. A kitchen for entertaining people to celebrate parties and to alleviate hardship is indispensable. Many Methodist churches and meetinghouses today offer space for worship, but also for an active and colorful life for the many congregation groups and generations.

Every possession is a gift entrusted by God. At the same time, there is the task of using it sensibly.

Every community, every association, also every church has to think about how the tasks associated with the respective objective can be financed. In Germany, the United Methodist Church has the legal form of a corporation under public law. This also entitles them to ask the state to collect church tax from their own church members. However, the United Methodist Church deliberately renounces this right to which it is entitled. When they are accepted into the church, church members undertake to promote their congregation and the church with regular gifts. Usually this is done through a monthly contribution. The amount of this contribution can be determined at your own discretion. John Wesley (1703-1791), however, insisted that the Old Testament demand for tithing (ten percent of income) should also serve as an orientation for today's Christians.

Generosity is the measure

John Wesley gave himself an account of exactly what he spent on himself and what he spent on God's work. His records indicate that on his first annual intake of £ 30, he needed £ 28 for personal use. He gave away two pounds. In a period without inflation, he kept the amount he needed for his personal needs. When his income rose to £ 60 he gave away £ 32; when he received £ 90 he gave away £ 62. He followed this principle until the end of his life. He never spent more than £ 28 on himself. In later years he made over £ 1,000 in revenue each year from the sale of his books, but he gave away all of that. He only deducted his travel expenses. He has spent over £ 30,000 on charity in his lifetime.

Responsibility is the guideline

An important hallmark of redeemed life for John Wesley was independence from material and financial possessions. At the same time, he appreciated it when people deal responsibly and generously with their property, thereby supporting the work of God and helping to alleviate people's misery. This is why John Wesley could say, “You don't get a heavenly reward for what you put aside, but for what you hand out. Every pound that you put in the earthly bank is lost, it brings no interest above. But every pound you give to the poor is invested in the heavenly bank. It will bring great interest that will multiply in eternity. "In a sermon on the right use of money, he formulated the guideline" Acquire as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can. " So: Recognize and perceive the opportunities and possibilities of property and money without fear of contact and deal with them responsibly and generously. A guideline that is still relevant today and that conveys a spiritual perspective.

The first building society on the European continent emerged from an idea by the Methodist lay preacher Georg Kropp - for a long time the epitome of building society savings.

The trained chemist and committed Methodist Georg Kropp (1865-1943) developed the idea of ​​building society savings. On January 15, 1921, a strange foreign owl bought a primitive farmhouse in Wüstenrot, Baden-Württemberg, with the savings of his Swabian wife, shortly before the great devaluation of money in the 1920s. So the nature-loving small family wanted to finally create their own home. Nobody suspected that this would open a new chapter in European social and economic history in Wüstenrot, because Georg Kropp developed his home loan savings idea from this.

Save together, build together

Kropp's basic idea was to help people with low incomes to own homes. This was based on the simple consideration that a family who would like to build a house and save 1,000 marks a year for it would have to save about ten years before they could start building. Back then, in the 1920s, building a single-family house cost around 10,000 marks. But if ten families save as a community, the first can build after just one year, the second after two years and so on. Nine families are more likely to come to a house than they would have been able to do on their own. If more of the ten families join this community in the meantime, nobody has to wait too long for their own house. This gave birth to the idea of ​​building society savings as a collective savings system. Over the years this idea spread rapidly around the world. Georg Kropp is therefore referred to as the father of the building society movement.

Socially committed as a Methodist

Georg Kropp was a Methodist lay preacher and his basic Christian attitude shaped him also with regard to his social responsibility. As a gifted speaker, he was able to inspire the people of his time for his home loan and savings idea. Under his leadership, the work of the Association of Friends of Wüstenrot e. V. «(GdF), from which the first building society in Germany emerged in 1926.
The Bausparkasse, which has been based in Ludwigsburg since 1930 and is now part of the W&W Group (Wüstenrot and Württembergische), as well as its European sister institutes, have made the name of the municipality of Wüstenrot known throughout Europe beyond Germany and Austria. Bausparkasse Wüstenrot is still connected to its founder today and has set up a building society museum with seven exhibition rooms in Wüstenrot, around 50 kilometers north of Stuttgart.
Two other Methodists played a key role in shaping the home savings idea. Johannes Lubahn (1879-1969) brought the civil servants' own building society "Heimstättengesellschaft" of the German Beamtenschaft mbH, today's BHW, with him. He and Georg Kropp met several times and exchanged their sometimes different ideas. Erwin Boesler, husband of Charlotte Kropp, was also committed to his father-in-law Georg Kropp's home savings plan. After the war he had a major impact on the development of Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall. From 1946 to 1972 he was on the board and from 1965 chairman of the board.

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