The United Methodist Church, as the name suggests, is a Methodist Christian denomination. It is both mainline Protestant and Evangelical.
The Church claims that it has over 40,000 churches across the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia, and approximately 11 million members worldwide.
It was founded in 1968 by the union of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church at the constituting General Conference in Dallas, Texas.
Though it is the largest mainline denomination and the second largest Protestant Church still, the United Methodist Church does not have a central headquarter.
Nevertheless, it biggest administrative offices are present in Nashville, Tennessee. The Church is decentralized and democratic.
Furthermore, it includes branches like, the General Conference, Council of Bishops (executive branch), and Judicial Council (reviews decisions of law made by bishops).
General Conference is the official governing body of the church. It is the highest legislative body of the United Methodist Church that convenes every four years. After each General Conference, the legislative changes are recorded in the Book of Discipline.
The non-legislative changes, on the other hand, are recorded in the Book of Resolutions. The bishops and chief administrators of the church are appointed through the Jurisdictional and Central Conferences that also meet every four years.
If there are any decisions that are to be made between these four-year conferences, they are reffered to the Mission Council.
The basic unit of organization within this Church is the Annual Conference. Simply put, like there is a diocese in the Roman Catholic Church, there is an annual Conference in the United Methodist Church.
United Methodists aspire to make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world in a constructive way. Moreover, they lay emphasis on nurturing people in disciplined Christian living and helping them grow in their love of God. They work to renew and strengthen Christian congregations and communities.
Furthermore, members of this Christian denomination have a great concern for social justice. In fact, in the past, they have expressed their opposition to issues like slave trade, smuggling, gambling, death penalty, and so on. Nonetheless, they allow a range of theological and political beliefs, too.
United Methodists follow the policy of Connectionalism which defines the church not by the formal structures or lines of authority but by the connection between people.
Thus, the church holds interpersonal connections like that between pastor and pastor, pastor and laity, etc. in high regard.
The fundamental book of this denomination with the ‘flame and cross’ logo, is the Book of Disciple, also referred to as The Disciple. It constitutes the doctrine of the United Methodist Church (UMC).
The Church has a Wesleyan theological heritage. The members of this church believe in Triune God, Sanctification, Sin, Salvation, Free Will, Divine Grace, etc. It sees the Holy Bible as the primary authority.
The Wesleyan theology, in particular, maintains that salvation is entirely the act of God’s grace, right from invitation up to growth in holiness.
Hence, it operates in three parts, that is, Prevenient Grace, Justifying Grace, and Sanctifying Grace. On the other hand, this theology discards the doctrine of eternal security and believes that salvation cannot be rejected.
Generally, when compared to other Christian denominations, the United Methodist Church is considered more moderate and tolerant with respect to gender, race, and ideology.