We, as United Methodists, share a common heritage with all Christians. Our foundational statement of beliefs contain affirmations in common with all Christian communities:
At God, who is one, is revealed in three distinct persons. The Trinity referred to is God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe in the mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ. God became human in Jesus of Nazareth; and his life, death and resurrection demonstrates God’s redeeming love.
The Holy Spirit is God’s present activity in our midst. When we sense God’s leading, God’s challenge, or God’s support or comfort, it’s the Holy Spirit at work.
Here at St. John’s we use Scripture, combined with lessons of Tradition that we see as worthy of continued use and belief, along with Reason and Experience, to help guide, interpret, and continually hear God’s voice for us here today, in our lives. We believe that although used differently at each point of history, our founder, John Wesley, was ahead of his time in realizing that Scripture needed one’s ability to reason, to add personal experiences to it for understanding, and that each generation would have the traditions of the last to instruct and give light what would be the next generation’s use and understanding of God’s Word.
Our Heritage Affecting Today
Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living, by putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as “practical divinity” has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.
The distinctive shape of our theological heritage can be seen not only in this emphasis on Christian living, but also in Wesley’s distinctive understanding of God’s saving grace. Grace is central to our understanding of Christian faith and life.Grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. We read in the Letter to the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
St. John’s on the Lake is continually trying to look around us and ahead of our time, so we can help ourselves and our community live into the gift of God’s grace and pass it onto others. We see inconsistencies in life and learning, try to bring the right within our hearts, change and lead change, so that we can live into Christian living at a higher level at all times. Always a process, but one we go through with God’s grace and wisdom leading the way.