The faith community of Waverly Grace UMC is shaped by the basic Christian beliefs, and particular insights and emphases of John Wesley and like-minded Christians who followed him. John, along with his brother Charles, led a powerful Christian renewal movement in England during the eighteenth century. It is a movement that continues to this very day, though often in highly institutionalized forms. The Wesley's emphasized that God acts within us to enable us to become more Christ-like people. They thought of salvation not just as something confined to the future, but as present reality that continues into eternity. Here are some important beliefs that hold our faith community together:
The Father. At the heart of what it means to talk of God as Father is God’s creating, generative nature. God the Father is the source of both love and life. The Father is, in a sense, the wellspring of the Trinity, a wellspring who has poured forth the Son and the Holy Spirit eternally.
The Son. The Father sends the Son, Jesus, to save us from sin and death, so that we can live as God wants in this life, and so that we can live with God forever.
The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the abiding presence of God in our lives that teaches and changes us so that we become more like Jesus. * Wesleyans believe that the Holy Spirit is always calling to us, always reaching out to us, and it is our choice to say yes or no to the Spirit. Once we say yes to God, however, we also have the responsibility to keep saying yes to God. Wesleyans believe that, having once accepted the salvation that is ours in Christ, we can in fact ultimately reject that salvation and backslide into lives of sin.
Human Beings. Human beings are created in the image of God and hold a very special place within creation. Like God, we have will, reason, and morality.
Sin. Original sin is the idea that human beings cannot help but think, act, and speak in ways that violate God’s will—until, that is, God goes to work on them, changing them from the inside out.
Salvation. Salvation, for Wesleyans, is the entire work of God, from the first stirring in our souls telling us that we need God to our receiving of eternal life with Him. Christians through the centuries have believed that being apart from God eternally is a terrible fate called “hell.”
Grace. Salvation is a gift from God -- called grace -- and is not something that we earn. It is something that God gives to us out of love.
The Church. Being a part of the Church does not just mean that you are saved or that you have a new social group. It means that you are part of the group of people who confess that Jesus is Lord, that God has put a claim on your life, and that your life will never be the same.
Sacraments. Wesleyans believe that Sacraments are an outward sign of an inward grace. The two sacraments -- baptism and communion -- are a “means of grace,” or a way of receiving the power and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is the risen Christ who presides and gives grace at the sacraments.
The Bible. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
Holiness. We believe that holiness is God’s work in changing us, giving us hearts and minds that naturally do God’s will, rather than rebel against it.
How We Live. Wesleyans do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
There is no perfect church and no perfect theology. If you’re looking for either one of these, you will be sorely disappointed. There is only the perfect God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who offers perfect love to imperfect people like each of us. Embrace the love that God offers you, and you will find new life now and forever.
WE BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sits at the right hand of
God the Father Almighty;
from there he shall come to judge
the living and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.