What We Believe
The Purpose of Paris First United Methodist Church is…
The United Methodist Church shares a great deal with other Christian denominations. We believe God’s grace is given to all, and therefore we practice “open Communion.” This means all who seek to follow Jesus are welcome. We believe salvation is a free gift from God, accepted by individuals according to their own free will. The United Methodist denomination is a “big tent” theologically, providing space for theological discourse and, at times, disagreement.
Like many other Christian groups, we affirm the beliefs expressed in the Apostles’ Creed. These include:
- The belief in one God, who is the Creator and sustainer of the universe.
- The belief in the Trinity, that there is one God in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- The belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is fully human and fully divine.
Our spiritual goal as United Methodists is to embody the love of neighbor, so when people encounter us, all they see is the love of God shining forth from us. This is our understanding of God’s grace working in and through us.
We believe God loves us and works in us before we even know that God is there. God’s grace changes how we understand ourselves as individuals and as a society. And once we accept the love and grace of God for ourselves, we are so moved that we feel joy, peace, happiness, and a drive to spread that love to those around us.
Throughout our history, Methodists have lived into John Wesley’s emphasis on social holiness, both individually and as a denomination. Methodists built hospitals. They opened the doors of their educational institutions to girls by the 1830s! Early on and still, we have financially supported more Black institutions of education than any other denomination. Our deaconess movement has consistently been made up of bold women who live into their unique calls to serve those in need around them and across the world in new ways. Women were granted full clergy ordination in 1956. Together we have sought to provide relief, programming, radical new ministries, and education for all levels of the church. We have lived into our unique form of multi-layered connections in order to better the world in every single way that we can.
As United Methodists, we continually challenge ourselves to be better, to live better, to love better. We are called to challenge the norms; to confront and break down systemic injustices; to carry the word of God to those who have not heard it and to those who’ve been told by society that they aren’t worthy, aren’t equal, or aren’t loved.
Our faith cannot be fully lived out in an individual setting; we are called to live out our faith by witnessing the love of God in community. John Wesley didn’t only preach in the pulpit on a Sunday, but he left the comfort of the pulpit to preach in fields and coal mines – and even from atop his father’s grave. He visited the sick, the poor, and the imprisoned. He dared to let women preach because he recognized the movement of the Spirit in them. He broke the rules of the institutional Church of England because he recognized that the Spirit of God was moving in new ways and sometimes this required a bit of rule bending.
As United Methodists, we pray to recognize, absorb, and live out the love of God in order to tear down barriers of injustice and seek bold ways to change the lives of those around us. This is how we make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world.
Adapted from what has been shared by Dr. Ashley Boggan Dreff, General Secretary of the General Commission on Archives & History.