South End United Methodist Church
Monday, November 18, 2019
5042 Edmondson Pike Nashville 37211
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What We Believe

United Methodists profess the historic Christian faith in God, who took the form of humanity in Jesus Christ for our salvation, and who is ever at work in human history in the Holy Spirit.  



Thus we believe that --

our salvation ( justification) is possible by God's grace through faith;

God's redemptive love is realized in human life by the activity of the Holy Spirit; 

the reign of God is both a present and future reality; 

faith and good works belong together:  while faith is the only response to God's grace  which is essential for salvation, the transformation that occurs within one's life evidences itself in good works;

the love of God is always linked with the love of neighbor, a passion for justice and a renewal in the life of the world.



Like our forebears in the faith ---

we reaffirm the ancient Christian message, applied anew  in our own circumstances.  Like our forebears, our preaching and teaching is grounded in Scripture, informed by Christian tradition, enlivened in experience, and tested by reason.  

Grace --  a distinctive Methodist (Wesleyan) emphasis: 

Grace pervades our understanding of Christian faith and life.  By grace we mean the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action of God in human existence through the ever-present Holy Spirit.  While the grace of God is undivided, it precedes salvation as "prevenient grace", continues in "justifying grace", and is brought to fruition in "sanctifying grace".
Preceding our salvation, "prevenient grace" is the divine love that surrounds all humanity and precedes all of our conscious impulses. This grace prompts our first desire to please God, our first glimmer of understanding of God's will, our first transient conviction of having sinned against God, awakens our longing for God's forgiveness, and moves us toward repentance and faith.
Through "justifying grace", God reaches out to the repentant believer with accepting and pardoning love.  Wesleyan theology stresses that a decisive change in the human heart can and does occur under the prompting of grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  In justification we are, through faith, forgiven our sin and restored to God's favor, which calls forth faith and trust as we experience regeneration (new birth).  This process of justification and new birth is often referred to as conversion, which may be sudden and dramatic or gradual and cumulative.  It is part of an ongoing process, expressing itself as faith working by love.
New birth is the first step in the process of sanctification.  God's "sanctifying grace" draws us toward the gift of Christian perfection, which is not a state of sinlessness, but a process of being perfected in love for God and neighbor-- becoming ever more Christ-like.  This gracious gift of God's power and love is neither warranted by our efforts nor limited by our frailties.  

The Sacraments :

In this context of grace, the United Methodist Church accepts the baptism of all Christian traditions as we believe that baptism is initiated by God's love, to which we simply respond.  After baptism (infant or adult), the church provides the nurture which makes possible a comprehensive and life-long process of growing in faith. 
Likewise, Holy Communion in the United Methodist tradition is offered to all who are actively seeking the love of God through Jesus Christ.  There is no pre-requisite of baptism or church/ denominational membership to partake of communion in our services, for John Wesley observed this sacrament to be a means (vehicle) for God's grace to enter the lives of people -- be it prevenient, justifying or sanctifying grace.
( Taken from "Doctrinal Standards", The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church  2004)