The Methodist Church is a mainstream Christian Church. It works in partnership with other denominations whenever possible. But there are certain emphases in the Methodist culture which make us distinctive:
- Singing our faith has always been important to Methodists, indeed Charles Wesley wrote hundreds of well-loved hymns.
- Early Methodist gatherings were called ‘societies’. John Wesley encouraged different kinds of small groups to develop, so that both leaders and members of the societies could receive support and challenge in their faith.
- These groups, called ‘classes’ and ‘bands’ met regularly, and the idea was to be accountable to each other about how each person was living the Christian life. So people had to be very open and willing to be changed by the experience.
- Many Methodist churches have home fellowships, Bible studies and house groups. Increasingly they are seeking in various ways to renew and expand the opportunities for Christian conversation about the things that matter.
- Methodists hold an annual Covenant Service, at which we celebrate all that God has done for us, and affirm that we give our lives and choices to God. Most churches hold the service in the New Year, others in September, at the beginning of the Methodist year.
A covenant with God
‘I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.’
The traditional Covenant prayer (above) makes it very clear that this affirmation is a serious one that embraces the whole of our life, in all its parts. Most people find it quite tough to say, and really mean it. But the prayer is so central to the Christian life that other Churches have also adopted it.