In order to gain a full understanding of the United Methodist Church’s practices and doctrines, it is important to compare and contrast the modern tradition of the Methodist Church to Wesley’s original tradition; by considering Wesleyan-influenced worship specifically relating to Methodist preaching, the Methodist sacraments, order of worship, significance and meaning of various baptism ceremonies, open communion, and the nature of the early Methodist worship service. The Methodist tradition and it’s future has been significantly transformed from its original theology because of controversial challenges, such as: interpretation of scripture, abortion, evolutionary theory, sexism, racial issues, and homosexuality.
As the founder of the Methodist movement, and later the Methodist Church, it is important to examine John Wesley’s influence and worship within the church. Before the establishment of the Methodist Church, John Wesley frequented the scholars of his local university and realized there was more to Christianity than what he was receiving through the Anglican Church. He pondered what worship meant to him, what he believed, and in what capacity those two things should be undertaken.
Methodism is based on three pillars, including: devotion in studies, prayer, and helping the underprivileged. Methodism was first considered a movement that centered on old Christian tradition. Therefore, modern Methodism is still comprised of Anglican beliefs. Although the Methodist Church has changed in its doctrine and practice, the future of the Methodist Church should never forget Wesley’s theology. Sweet state’s, “Methodism arose out of two great urges: the first was the religious experience of John Wesley; the second was the vast spiritual destitution of eighteenth-century England.” According to McEllhenney, from 1939 to 1968, five Methodist churches merged to form the United Methodist Church. They were the Evangelical Association; Methodist Episcopal Church; Methodist Episcopal Church, South; Methodist Protestant Church, and the United Brethren in Christ. Later these three branches of American Methodism were founded: the Methodist protestant Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church. Yet, in 1939, the three joined to form one church. The issue of togetherness was extended further to unite other Methodist communities, the American Methodist and the newly reunited evangelical United Brethren Church. The two combined to form the second largest protestant denomination in America, the United Methodist Church.
The United Methodist’s practice of baptism continues to be controversial in modern times. Wesley originally followed his Anglican teaching and preferred immersion. However, he specifies later in the Prayer Book revision that, pouring was feasible for older children and adults. Today, the United Methodist Church uniquely embraces all three forms of baptism: submersion, sprinkle, and partial submersion. Since the United...