I go to church so surely I already belong as a member of the congregation?
Yes, you do belong. But the United Methodist Church also offers you the chance to show another step of commitment by being ‘confirmed’ and ‘received into membership’. This means that there is a service in which you make promises – these are the same promises that are made when someone is baptised. A prayer for the work of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life is also said in both services.
What is the difference between Confirmation and being ‘received into membership’?
It is important to recognise publicly a growth in your maturity as a committed Christian, and to witness to your faith, and for that to be affirmed. Confirmation does that and many denominations offer this rite. Confirmation is when you publicly confirm the promises that you made, or were made on your behalf (if you were baptised as a baby).
Being ‘received into membership’ means that you are welcomed into a particular United Methodist church (ie: usually your local church) which can support you in your discipleship and where you can support others. If you move to another United Methodist church then you will not be confirmed again, though when your membership is transferred to that church, you given a transfer letter that you will take to your new local church.
Do I have to be a member of the Methodist Church in order to receive Holy Communion?
No. United Methodist Church believe that Holy Communion is itself a ‘means of grace’ which may well draw you on to make further commitment to Christ. Children also may receive Communion.
The United Methodist Church claims and cherishes its place in the Holy Catholic Church which is the Body of Christ. It rejoices in the inheritance of the apostolic faith and loyally accepts the fundamental principles of the historic creeds and of the Protestant Reformation. It ever remembers that in the providence of God Methodism was raised up to spread scriptural holiness through the land by the proclamation of the evangelical faith and declares its unfaltering resolve to be true to its divinely appointed mission.
The doctrines of the evangelical faith which Methodism has held from the beginning and still holds are based upon the divine revelation recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The United Methodist Church acknowledges this revelation as the supreme rule of faith and practice. These evangelical doctrines to which the preachers of the United Methodist Church are pledged are contained in Wesley’s Notes on the New Testament and the first four volumes of his sermons.
The Notes on the New Testament and the 44 Sermons are not intended to impose a system of formal or speculative theology on Methodist preachers, but to set up standards of preaching and belief which should secure loyalty to the fundamental truths of the gospel of redemption and ensure the continued witness of the Church to the realities of the Christian experience of salvation.