The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 when the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church combined. However, our heritage goes back much further. On May 24th, 1738, John Wesley met with a group of believers on Aldersgate Street in London. Wesley came to understand that faith in Christ alone would bring salvation. He and his brother, Charles, soon began to organize Methodist societies throughout rural areas and small towns in England. The Methodist Church through the years has provided opportunities for millions to know and follow Jesus Christ. The United Methodist Church has the following spiritual emphasis:
- Salvation is restored relationship with God, which comes through faith in Christ.
- Scripture is sufficient for guiding every believer in Godly living.
- True faith in Christ will be expressed in deed of love, witness, service, and holiness.
The United Methodist Church, as a denomination, is a democratic and representative organization. The manner by which the church is organized, the selection of leaders, and the way it uses its resources are determined by a majority of voting members at local, regional and international meetings called “conferences.” Fairview is a member of the Holston Conference.
A bishop is an ordained elder, elected by the jurisdictional or central conference, to serve in one of the top offices of the church. The district superintendent is an ordained clergy person appointed by a bishop to supervise a region of about 50 churches.
The United Methodist Church recognizes only baptism and Holy Communion as sacraments because they were the only acts ordained by Christ. Through baptism, we accept God’s gift of grace through Jesus Christ and yield our lives to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Baptism ushers you into the Christian church universal, the family of Christ. If you have not been baptized you will be asked to repent of your sins and profess your faith in God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Christian faith as contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. To be received into United Methodist membership, you will be asked to be loyal to the church and “do all in your power to strengthen its ministries.” You are asked to commit yourself to “faithfully participate in the church’s ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness.” Sprinkling is the most common method of baptism in the United Methodist church. However, Fairview offers baptism by sprinkling and immersion. Those being baptized can choose their mode of baptism. If you have been baptized in another Christian denomination, you will only take vows of church membership.
When an infant is baptized, the parents promise to raise the child in a Christian home and the congregation recognizes its responsibility in the Christian nurture of the child. While baptism is an important sacrament, it is not absolutely necessary for salvation. An infant who dies without having been baptized is as much within the love and care of God as the baptized infant.
The Lord’s Supper, also referred to as Communion or Eucharist, is open to all persons. Anyone may participate who responds affirmatively to the invitation, “Christ our Lord invites to His table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another.” You do not have to be a member of the church to participate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is required for membership in the church?
A: You will be asked to repent of your sins and profess your faith in God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Christian faith as contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. (If you have not been baptized you will be asked to do so.) Then you will be given the vows of the United Methodist Church.
Q: What are the vows?
A: You will be asked to support the church with your prayers, your presence in worship, your gifts and your service. Last year the United Methodist added–and your witness to what Christ has done for you.
Q: United Methodists baptize babies. Is it necessary for salvation?
A: When an infant is baptized, the parents promise to raise the child in a Christian home and the congregation recognizes its responsibility in the Christian nurture of the child. The child is recognized as a “member of the family” but the service is more about the responsibilities of the parents and the congregation. Those vows are later reaffirmed by the children when he or she “comes of age” and is confirmed as a church member.
Q: Why aren’t the children re-baptized?
A: We believe in ONE baptism and since the child has already been baptized we do not repeat it.
Q: When the child is older and understands what is happening, what if the child want to be baptized again?
A: Traditionally, the church does not re-baptize. We believe one baptism is all that is necessary. However, after a discussion with the pastor a child may “reaffirm” his or her baptism in a service of remembering and renewing.
Q: How is baptism done in the United Methodist Church?
A: Sprinkling is most commonly used, but pouring and immersion are also permissible. To sprinkle, the pastor’s hand is dipped into water and placed on the head of the person being baptized. For immersion, the person being baptized is completely dipped beneath water. At Fairview many who wish this form of baptism are taken to the mountains. The third option is simply to pour water from a pitcher on to the head. United Methodists are more concerned with the symbolism and meaning of the event than the exact form that might have been used.
Q: If I have already been baptized in another Christian denomination, must I be rebaptized to be a United Methodist?
A: No. Your previous baptism will be accepted and you will only take vows of church membership.
Q: Who participates in Communion?
A: As United Methodist we practice “an open table.” The ritual says, “Christ invites to His table all who earnestly repent and want to live in harmony….” We believe that Christ is doing the inviting and that the table is open to everyone.
Q: How ofter do you take Communion?
A: Communion is celebrated at least once a month in our regular worship experience. It “usually” happens the first Sunday of the month depending on the church calendar. The Sundays that we do not partake in the regular service, communion is offered in the chapel at 9:15 a.m.
Q: What method do you use for Communion?
A: Sometimes we use individual cups and tear the bread from the loaf. Most often we practice intinction (dipping the bread in the juice). The method is not important. The invitation is.
Q: Do you drink real wine at Communion?
A: No. We use grape juice. And, if someone in the church is gluten intolerant we provide gluten free wafers for them.
Organization of the Church
Q: How is the church organized?
A: The denomination is a democratic and representative organization. The manner by which the church is organized, the selection of leaders and the way it uses it resources are determined by a majority of voting members at local, regional and international meetings called “conferences.” Fairview is the local church, we are part of the Maryville District of the Holston Conference, the Southeastern Jurisdiction and the General Conference.
Q: How are pastors selected for the churches?
A: We have an “appointed” system. Many denominations have a called system. This guarantees that no church is ever without a pastor.
Stands on Social Issues
Q: Where does the United Methodist Church stand on social issues?
A: Every four years Methodists from all over the world gather in a General Conference. There with equal representation of clergy and lay representatives issues are discussed, prayed over and voted on. The findings are published in what is called The Book of Discipline. It would be too lengthy of a process to discuss all the social issues. For answers to any questions on an issue, contact the pastor or one of the professional staff members.