The United Methodist Church (UMC) is a worldwide mainline Protestant denomination based in the United States, and a major part of Methodism. In the 19th century, its main predecessor, the Methodist Episcopal Church, was a leader in evangelicalism. The present denomination was founded in 1968 in Dallas, Texas, by union of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley in England, as well as the Great Awakening in the United States. As such, the church's theological orientation is decidedly Wesleyan. It embraces liturgical, holiness, and evangelical elements.
The United Methodist Church has a connectional polity, a typical feature of a number of Methodist denominations. It is organized into conferences. The highest level is called the General Conference and is the only organization which may speak officially for the UMC. The church is a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council, and other religious associations.
With at least 12 million members as of 2014, the UMC is the largest denomination within the wider Methodist movement of approximately 80 million people across the world. In the United States, the UMC ranks as the largest mainline Protestant denomination, the second-largest Protestant church after the Southern Baptist Convention, and the third-largest Christian denomination. In 2014, its worldwide membership was distributed as 7 million in the United States, and 4.4 million in Africa, Asia and Europe. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 3.6 percent of the US population, or 9 million adult adherents, self-identify with the United Methodist Church, revealing a much larger number of adherents than registered membership.
On January 3, 2020, church leaders proposed a plan to split the United Methodist Church over issues of sexual orientation (particularly same-sex marriage) and create a new traditionalist Methodist denomination.
Elders are called by God, affirmed by the church, and ordained by a bishop to a ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service within the church. They may be appointed to the local church, or to other valid extension ministries of the church. Elders are given the authority to preach the Word of God, administer the sacraments of the church, to provide care and counseling, and to order the life of the church for ministry and mission. Elders may also be appointed to extension ministry to serve as district superintendents, and they are eligible for election to the episcopacy. Elders serve a term of 2–3 years as provisional elders prior to their ordination.
Deacons are called by God, affirmed by the church, and ordained by a bishop to servant leadership within the church.They are ordained to ministries of word, service, compassion, and justice. They may be
Deacons are called by God, affirmed by the church, and ordained by a bishop to servant leadership within the church.They are ordained to ministries of word, service, compassion, and justice. They may be appointed to ministry within the local church or to an extension ministry that supports the mission of the church. Deacons give leadership, preach the Word, contribute in worship, conduct marriages, bury the dead, and aid the church in embodying its mission within the world. Deacons assist elders in the sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism, and may be granted sacramental authority if they are appointed as the pastor in a local church or as their extension ministry requires, upon approval of the bishop. Deacons serve a term of 2–3 years as provisional deacons prior to their ordination.
Local Pastors are called by God, affirmed by the church, and appointed by a bishop to a ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service within the church. The Local Pastors are given the authority to preach the Word of God, administer the sacraments of the church, to provide care and counseling, and to order the life of the church for ministry and mission, but are not ordained. When elders are not available to be appointed to a local church, either through shortage of personnel or financial hardship of a pastoral charge, the bishop may appoint a "local pastor" to serve the pastoral appointment. Local Pastors are often bi-vocational, living out their ministerial call in the local church and in their field of employment. Full-time and part-time licensed local pastors under appointment are clergy and hold membership in the annual conference and not in the local church. A local pastor's official title is 'Licensed Local Pastor' and is appointed as clergy to the local church where they preach, conduct divine worship and perform the regular duties of a pastor. The licensed local pastor has the authority of a pastor only within the context and during the time of the appointment and shall not extend beyond it. Local pastors are not required to have advanced degrees but are required to attend licensing school and continue education by attending an approved course of study at an approved United Methodist seminary or course of study school, or enroll in M.Div studies at an approved United Methodist Seminary, To continue towards Associate Membership in the Annual Conference, they must successfully complete written and oral examinations, and appear before the District Committee on Ministry and the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, as well as meet certain age and service requirements. They also may continue towards ordination if they complete their bachelor's degree, requirements of their particular Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, as well as an advanced course or study or prescribed seminary courses at an approved seminary. Upon retirement, or when no longer appointed to a local church, local pastors return to a charge conference as lay members.
There are two classes
There are two classes of lay membership in the UMC: Baptized Members and Professing Members.
The United Methodist Church (UMC) practices infant and adult baptism. Baptized Members are those who have been baptized as an infant or child, but who have not subsequently professed their own faith. These Baptized Members become Profe
The United Methodist Church (UMC) practices infant and adult baptism. Baptized Members are those who have been baptized as an infant or child, but who have not subsequently professed their own faith. These Baptized Members become Professing Members through confirmation and sometimes the profession of faith. Individuals who were not previously baptized are baptized as part of their profession of faith and thus become Professing Members in this manner. Individuals may also become a Professing Member through transfer from another Christian denomination.
Unlike confirmation and profession of faith, Baptism is a sacrament in the UMC. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church directs the local church to offer membership preparation or confirmation classes to all people, including adults. The term confirmation is generally reserved for youth, while some variation on membership class is generally used for adults wishing to join the church. The Book of Discipline normally allows any youth at least completing sixth grade to participate, although the pastor has discretionary authority to allow a younger person to participate. In confirmation and membership preparation classes, students learn about Church and the Methodist-Christian theological tradition in order to profess their ultimate faith in Christ.
Lay members are extremely important in the UMC. The Professing Members are part of all major decisions in the church. General, Jurisdictional, Central, and Annual Conferences are all required to have an equal number of laity and clergy.
In a local church, many decisions are made by an administrative board or council. This council is made up of laity representing various other organizations within the local church. The elder or local pastor sits on the council as a voting member.
Additionally, Laity may serve the church in several distinct roles including:
Another position in the United Methodist Church is that of the lay servant. Although not considered clergy, lay servants often preach during services of worship when an ordained elder, Local Pastor, Associate Member or deacon is unavailable. There are two categories of lay servants: local church lay servant, who serve in and through their local churches, and certified lay servants, who serve in their own churches, in other churches, and through district or conference projects and programs. To be recognized as local church lay servant, they must be recommended by their pastor and Church Council or Charge Conference, and complete the basic course for lay servant. Each year they must reapply, reporting how they have served and continued to learn during that year. To be recognized as certified lay servant, they must be recommended by their pastor and Church Council or Charge Conference, complete the basic course and one advanced lay servant course, and be interviewed by the District or Conference Committee on Lay Speaking. They must report and reapply annually; and they must complete at least one advanced course every three years.