The Mission & Beliefs of St. Stephen UMC
The Mission of St. Stephen United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ who will transform the world by loving, knowing, and serving our God. We proclaim the good news of God's grace and exemplify Jesus' command to love God and our neighbor in all that we do. In carrying out this mission, we are seeking the fulfillment of God's reign in the world.
As United Methodists, we believe it is critical not only to believe, but to live out our faith in our personal lives, our communities, and the world (James 2:14-18). In order to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, we believe we must reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.
Our primary source for encountering God and understanding faith is Scripture. Although Scripture is primary and authoritative, it is not the only way to encounter God or to come to an understanding of faith. We begin with Scripture and also use the Christian tradition (creeds, affirmations of faith, belief statements, hymns), our own experience (personal and collective), as well as our ability to reason (think). All of these sources work together to help us decide matters of faith.
Grace pervades our understanding of Christian faith and life. By grace we mean the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action of God in human existence through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We believe that we are saved by God's grace through our faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is both a moment and a process. We are saved from our sins and given the assurance of eternal life when we profess our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. This moment begins a lifetime of growing more Christ-like and becoming more and more able to truly love God with our heart, mind, soul and strength and our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Holy Communion is one of two sacraments recognized and practiced in the United Methodist Church. "Holy Communion is a sacred meal in which the community of faith, in the simple act of eating bread and drinking juice, proclaims and participates in all that God has done, is doing, and will continue to do for us in Christ."* In Holy Communion, we remember God's gift of Jesus Christ and Christ's sacrifice on our behalf. We also remember God's grace given to us in our baptism and partake of the spiritual food necessary for sustaining us in the journey of faith. As a sacrament, we believe Holy Communion is a means of God's grace. It is not solely a memorial meal, but is also a time we encounter the Risen Lord through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
"Because the table at which we gather belongs to the Lord, it should be open to all who respond to Christ's love, regardless of age or church membership." By Water and the Spirit, Book of Resolutions, p. 875