What we belieVe
Foundational Documents of The United Methodist Faith
Just as creeds such as the Apostles’ Creed summarize the belief of all Christians, the Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church and the Confessions of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church form a foundation of doctrine for United Methodists. They, along with Wesley’s Sermons on Several Occasions and Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, are “standards” of doctrine for United Methodists.
The Articles of Religion
When the Methodist movement in America became a church in 1784, John Wesley provided the American Methodists with a liturgy and a doctrinal statement, which contained twenty-four “Articles of Religion” or basic statements of belief. These Articles of Religion were taken from the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England—the church out of which the Methodism movement began—and had been the standards for preaching within the Methodist movement. When these articles were voted on by the American conference, an additional article was added regarding the American context, bringing the total number of articles to 25.
These articles became the basic standards for Christian belief in the Methodist church in North America. First published in the church’s Book of Discipline in 1790, the Articles of Religion have continued to be part of the church’s official statement of belief.
READ THE ARTICLES
The Confession of Faith
The Confession of Faith is the statement of belief from The Evangelical United Brethren Church. Consisting of 16 articles, the current form of this statement of faith was presented and adopted by the 1962 General Conference.
When The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 from the union of several branches of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, both The Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith were adopted as basic statements of the Christian faith. Click here to read more about the history of how this statement of faith came to be.
READ THE CONFESSION
190 years ago a young Methodist preacher rode into an unruly town on the Mississippi River with a population of around 500 called Memphis TN. Reverend Thomas Davidson had a vision of starting a church from which other churches and even new denominations would grow. In February of 1826, Rev. Thomas and three others held the first worship service of what would become the first church in Memphis and would later be called Memphis First United Methodist Church. In 1832, 11 faithful members sought to buy land and build a place of worship so they could increase their ability to reach out to the people of Memphis.
Within a year, the church had been built upon the plot of land upon which First Church sits now and the membership had increased to 51 persons.
185 Years later, the people of First Church face a similar situation. In October of 2006, the historic sanctuary of Memphis First UMC caught fire and was totally destroyed. Along with the loss of the sanctuary, the adjacent offies and educational building known as the Pepper Building was also damaged to the point of needing to be completely rebuilt on the inside. After the tragic loss of our sanctuary, we have been worshiping in our education building for seven years. We strongly believe God is leading us to re-build the sanctuary so that we are better able to reach the people of Memphis and welcome them into a dynamic community of worship for many generations to come.
With the gifts of the extraordinary generous people in the community as well as the proceeds from insurance, Memphis First was able to fully restore the Pepper Building as well as lay a foundation and erect the frame for the future sanctuary. Every space that has been purchased or re-built since the fire has been able to be used to further the mission and ministry of First Church. For the mission and ministry of First Church to continue to flourish and increase, it is essential we increase our worshiping community. We believe building a sanctuary will serve as a inviting and welcoming front door to the community of worship and provide an essential catalyst for reaching those who are not currently in worship on Sunday Mornings.