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Why do we say creeds?


Unlike some churches that require affirmation of a strict list of beliefs as a condition of membership, The United Methodist Church is not a creedal church.

So why do we recite creeds during worship?

The United Methodist Hymnal contains nine creeds or affirmations. Only two of these (Nicene and Apostles') are strictly considered to be creeds because they are products of ecumenical councils.

The remaining affirmations are taken from Paul's letters (Corinthians, Colossians, Romans and Timothy) along with affirmations from the United Church of Canada, the Korean Methodist Church and the United Methodist Social Affirmation.

United Methodists are not required to believe every word of the affirmations. Church founder, John Wesley himself did not agree with a historic (Athanasian) creed, because he disliked its emphasis on condemning people to hell.

Affirmations help us come to our own understanding of the Christian faith. They affirm our unity in Christ with those followers who first wrote them, the many generations who have recited them before us and those who will recite them after we have gone.

-The Rev. J. Richard Peck

The Rev. J. Richard Peck is [former] editor of Newscope and United Methodist resources including The Book of Resolutions and the Daily Christian Advocate.

Interpreter, September 1999

Remember the Creeds by Bishop Timothy Whitaker