The United Methodist Church traces its roots back to brothers John and Charles Wesley in the 1700s, whose Methodist movement was a reform effort in the Church of England. American Methodists became a distinct denomination during the American Revolution. Methodist circuit-riding preachers suited the American frontier well, and the Methodist church became the largest and most influential denomination in the US from the era of the Civil War through the mid-20th century. Today, United Methodists are a global church with approximately 12 million members, the second largest Protestant church in the world. We are one branch of the Wesleyan tradition, which numbers 80 million Christians worldwide.
United Methodists and others in the Wesleyan tradition emphasize the grace of God, which prepares us for salvation, redeems us from sin, and helps us to live holier lives. Our faith is guided by Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. Although we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, we believe that faith demands an active and loving response. John Wesley believed in practical religion, and urged his followers to do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as ever we can. Consequently, The United Methodist Church has one of the largest mission efforts around the world, and is very interested in social justice issues.
John’s brother Charles Wesley gave the new tradition a rollicking songbook, writing over 6,000 hymns including standards such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”
The United Methodist Church was formed with the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968, represented by the two tongues of red flame in our logo. The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Denominational practices and standards are set by the global General Conference which meets every four years, and published in The Book of Discipline. (Discipline here does not mean a punishment, but rather a well-ordered method of becoming a disciple!) Delegates to General Conference are an equal number of laity and clergy elected at each Annual Conference. Onalaska UMC is one of 460 churches in the Wisconsin Annual Conference.
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