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Photo illustration by Laurens Glass, United Methodist Communications

Photo illustration by Laurens Glass, United Methodist Communications

Ask the UMC


Do you have questions about The United Methodist Church? Need help deciphering the hows and whys of who we are or what we believe? Maybe you have a faith question you’ve been pondering?

We invite you to ASK THE UMC. And check out some recent Q&As below.

Bishop Francis Burns, missionary bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Liberia, 1858-1863. Photo courtesy of the Liberia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Ask the UMC: When was the first African-American bishop elected?

The first African-American bishop served as a missionary bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Liberia. Read More

The Rev. Joey Galinato of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church, the Rev. Michael McQueen of St. James United Methodist Church and the Rev. Ronny Branen of Prospect United Methodist Church, all from the North Georgia Conference, join in baptizing 47 people in a river in Angat, Philippines. Photo by the Rev. Joey Galinato

Ask the UMC: How do you become United Methodist?

Becoming a United Methodist begins with a commitment to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ through participation in a local congregation. Read More

In this 2013 file photo, the Rev. Eunice Musa Iliya (right) participates in an International Women's Day vigil, sponsored by United Methodist Women. Photo by Kristina Krug, courtesy of United Methodist Women.

Ask the UMC: What does it mean when we vow to ‘resist evil, injustice and oppression’?

A look at the biblical and baptismal history behind the renunciation of evil. Read More

Ask the UMC: Are Watch Night services connected to John Wesley?

A look at the history of Watch Night services and the connection to Methodism founder John Wesley. Read More

Glendale United Methodist Church in Nashville is decorated for the Advent/Christmas season. Photo by Steven Kyle Adair, United Methodist Communications.

Ask the UMC: How long is the Christmas season?

Do you know the dates the Christmas season begins and ends? Read More

Stained glass window featuring Charles Wesley from Grace United Methodist Church in Atlanta, part of the United Methodist Church Global Mission Center. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

Ask the UMC: Did Charles Wesley write any Christmas hymns?

Wesley, a prolific hymn writer, wrote several hymns for Advent and Christmas, including a yuletide favorite. Read More

All Saints image courtesy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.  Cropped from original on Wikimedia Commons.

Ask the UMC: What does ‘communion of saints’ mean?

Every time Christians say the Apostles’ Creed, we profess belief in the communion of saints. But what does the term mean? Read More

United Methodists understand the need to confess their sin before God and one another. Photo courtesy Pixabay/CC0 Creative Commons.

Ask the UMC: What is the Methodist belief about forgiveness of sin?

United Methodists understand the need to confess their sin before God and one another. But do Methodists confess their sins to God or the pastor? Read More

A member of The Gathering United Methodist Church in St. Louis works with a student at Washington Elementary School as part of the church's Literacy Project. Photo courtesy of The Gathering.

What it means to witness: Honoring our United Methodist vow

There are many ways to share the good news. "When you make yourself approachable ... people will ask about faith." Series continues about the meaning of our membership vows. Read More

Photo showcases pumpkins and gourds. Photo by Roland zh / WikiMedia Commons.

Does The United Methodist Church have a position about Halloween?

Find information about this secular holiday and alternative ways to celebrate the season when you Ask the UMC. Read More

Different hands hold up the Cross and Flame of The United Methodist Church. Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Ask the UMC: Where is the church headquarters?

United Methodists make decisions together while in conference, or conversation, and prayer with other church members. Read More

The Rev. Anne Lau Choy baptizes an infant at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Fremont, Calif. Photo by Brian Teodoro.

Ask the UMC: Do United Methodists swear oaths?

At baptism, marriage and ordination, United Methodists "vow" (promise) simply and directly that they affirm or will do what is asked of them. Read More

A tire swing sways in the wind from Hurricane Rita over the remains of a beachfront home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in Ocean Springs, Miss. Rita made landfall in East Texas Sept. 24, 2005, nearly four weeks after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Ask the UMC: How do United Methodists understand human suffering from natural disaster?

When tragedy strikes, it is common for us to ask why. We turn to our faith for answers, but answers don’t come easily. Read More

Statue photo courtesy Ulleo, Pixabay.

Ask the UMC: Is our time of death predetermined?

Some people say that when you are born, the day of your death is written in the book. What does that mean? Read More

Children and youth often serve as acolytes in The United Methodist Church. They may carry in the light of Christ, the processional cross, banners or Bible. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMCom.

Ask the UMC: Where did the use of acolytes originate?

Is the role of acolytes to carry the light of the Lord into the world? Read More

Ask the UMC: What is grace? Is it different from peace?

United Methodists understand grace as a gift from God. Peace is found in our response to God's grace. Read More

Photo by John Hain, courtesy of Pixabay

Ask the UMC: How do we love our enemies?

This is a question many Christians struggle with. Agape love is hard. It requires action, not just a general sense of goodwill or affection. Read More

Photo by Laurens Glass, United Methodist Communications

Ask the UMC: What is meant by the term ‘image of God’?

Genesis 1:27 tells us that humans are created in the image of God, but what exactly does that mean? Read More

The church recognizes that marijuana may have medical benefits for some conditions. Photo by Jennifer Martin, Wikimedia Commons

Ask the UMC: Is using marijuana for medical reasons acceptable?

The United Methodist Church has long supported abstinence from illegal drugs, but is the church’s stance on medical marijuana different? Read More

A panel on the back wall inside of Joannes de Dooper Church in Pijnacker, Netherlands, depicts the wedding feast at Cana. Photo by Hpruxpbvm, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ask the UMC: Was the wine at the wedding at Cana alcoholic?

During the temperance movement, there was an argument that somehow the wine in the Gospels was miraculously non-alcoholic, but is there evidence in the biblical text to support that argument? Read More

Communion is not an individual, private sacrament, rather it is celebrated by the whole gathered congregation. Photo by Diane Degnan, United Methodist Communications

Can a layperson celebrate communion privately at home?

Mark W. Stamm offers an explanation in his book "Sacraments and Discipleship: Understanding Baptism and the Lord's Supper in a United Methodist Context." Read More

A stained-glass window featuring John and Charles Wesley is found at the Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Epworth, England. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

Can God really love me?

United Methodists who struggle to feel accepted and loved by the Savior should remember that John Wesley struggled with similar feelings. Read More

Bishop Scott J. Jones baptizes the daughter of the Rev. Emily and Stephen Cannon during the 2015 Great Plains Annual Conference. Photo by Todd Seifert, Great Plains Conference.

Ask the UMC: What is expected of godparents?

Being invited to be a child’s godparent is an honor and a serious responsibility. Read how godparents play a special role in the life of a child. Read More

Jeremain (left) and Jeremaih Robinson pile up ruined furnishings from a home that was heavily damaged by flooding in Baton Rouge, La. The 16-year-old twins were part of a volunteer team from First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

What is UMCOR Sunday?

Gifts to the UMCOR Sunday offering (formerly One Great Hour of Sharing) cover the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s costs of doing business. Read More

A small group meets at McKendree United Methodist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

Ask the UMC: What ‘methods’ might Methodists use?

The “method” of Methodism is shaped by the Methodist rule of life, known as the General Rules. Read More

Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church has been called one of the sites all United Methodists should see because it has been a Methodist house of worship continually since 1769. Video image by Jess Warnock, courtesy of United Methodist Communications.

Where was the first Methodist annual conference in America?

The first annual conference in America was held in 1773 at a church that is still in existence today. Read More

At the time of Jesus, cremation was widely practiced by the Romans, but rarely by Jews and Christians because of their belief that the bodies of believers would one day be physically resurrected. Photo by MaryW, courtesy of Pixabay.

What are the church’s views on cremation, organ donation?

What is The United Methodist Church stance on cremation and organ donation? Read More

The United Methodist Church continues to have a presence in the Philippines. Photo courtesy Philippines Central Conference. Cropped from original; please do not use.

Is the UMC in Canada, Australia, Latin America, Asia?

Get a history lesson about the Methodist presence in these parts of the world. Read More

The Rev. Esther Kachiko Furaha prays during worship at New Jerusalem United Methodist Church in Uvira, Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2015. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Does the church believe we can ‘command’ God to perform acts?

The United Methodist Church believes in the power of prayer, but not in "controlling" God. Read More

For United Methodists, membership requires active participation in a local congregation. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS

What does it mean to be a member?

Discover what it means to be part of a United Methodist congregation. Read More

United Methodists affirm the usefulness of a number of translations and versions of the Bible as being helpful for study, teaching, memorization and other purposes. Photo by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

Does the church have an official Bible?

Find out which versions of the Bible United Methodists use, and why. Read More

As we give the bread we have broken at the Great Thanksgiving as Jesus did at the Last Supper, we also say the words Jesus said. Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications. Cropped from original.

Why say “the body of Christ, broken for you”?

At a communion service, you may have heard the terms "broken" or "given." Learn why. Read More

Fork and knife against white background. Photo by Bjorgvin Gudmundsson /

What does The United Methodist Church say about fasting?

There is a strong biblical base for fasting, and the practice has been a part of Methodism from its early beginnings. Read More

Easter lily. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Why is the Easter season 50 days long?

Ever wonder why Easter is 50 days long? In this week's Ask the UMC question, explore the reason behind the length of the Easter season. Read More

An angel in the Recoleta Cemetery located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The cemetery is located at the church of Our Lady of Pilar. Photo by Godot13, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Do United Methodists believe in saints?

What does the church say about saints? How do United Methodists honor the faithful who have died? Read More

Community members walk past a food distribution site for the United Methodist Committee on Relief following Typhoon Haiyan in Dagami, Philippines, in 2013. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

How can I help with disaster relief?

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) provides resources and relief to many to overcome world hunger and poverty. Read More