History of the United Methodist Church
Creation of the UMC
On April 23, 1968, The United Methodist Church was created when Bishop Reuben H. Mueller, representing The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke of The Methodist Church joined hands at the constituting General Conference in Dallas, Texas. With the words, "Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church and now in The United Methodist Church," the new denomination was given birth by two churches that had distinguished histories and influential ministries in various parts of the world.
Theological traditions steeped in the Protestant Reformation and Wesleyanism, similar ecclesiastical structures, and relationships that dated back almost two hundred years facilitated the union. In the Evangelical United Brethren heritage, for example, Philip William Otterbein, the principal founder of the United Brethren in Christ, assisted in the ordination of Francis Asbury to the superintendency of American Methodist work. Jacob Albright, through whose religious experience and leadership the Evangelical Association was begun, was nurtured in a Methodist class meeting following his conversion.
Our Theological Heritage: 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).
Our United Methodist heritage is rooted in a deep and profound understanding of God's grace. This incredible grace flows from God's great love for us. Did you have to memorize John 3:16 in Sunday school when you were a child? There was a good reason. This one verse summarizes the gospel: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life". The ability to call to mind God's love and God's gift of Jesus Christ is a rich resource for theology and faith.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, described God's grace as threefold:
Excerpt from What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Theology, 29-33. Used by permission.
John Wesley: Youth
John Wesley, the father of the doctrinal and practical system of Methodism, was born at Epworth (23 m. n.w. of Lincoln) June 28, 1703, and died in London Mar. 2, 1791. The Wesleys were of ancient Saxon lineage, the family history being traced backward to the time of Athelstan the Saxon, when Guy Wesley, or Wellesley, was created a thane or member of parliament. John Wesley was the son of Samuel Wesley, a graduate of Oxford, and a minister of the Church of England, who had married in 1689 Susannah, the twenty-fifth child of Dr. Samuel Annesley, and herself became the mother of nineteen children; in 1696 he was appointed rector of Epworth, where John, the fifteenth child, was born. He was christened John Benjamin, but he never used the second name. An incident. of his childhood was his rescue, at the age of six, from the burning rectory. The manner of his escape made a deep impression on his mind; and he spoke of himself as a "brand plucked from the burning," and as a child of Providence. The early education of all the children was given by Mrs. Wesley, a woman of remarkable intelligence and deep piety, apt in teaching, and wise and firm in governing. In 1713 John was admitted to the Charterhouse School, London, where he lived the studious, methodical, and (for a while) religious life in which he had been trained at home. In 1720 he entered Christ Church College, Oxford (M.A., 1727), was ordained deacon in 1725 and elected fellow of Lincoln College in the following year. He served his father as curate two years, and then returned to Oxford to fulfill his functions as fellow.
The Cross And The Flame Logo
A Mark Known the World Over
Suppose you are vacationing far from home. You drive around, looking for a church in which to worship Sunday morning. Suddenly you see a familiar sight: a Cross and Flame insignia on a sign, pointing you to the nearest United Methodist Church. You've just proved how symbols and pictures provide instant recognition, meaning and a sense of belonging.
Indeed, the Cross and Flame emblem is a powerful reminder of who and Whose we are as United Methodists. That's why protecting and preserving its use and integrity are just as important today as when the insignia was created and registered as No. 917,433 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office more than three decades ago.
History and Significance
The history and significance of the Cross and Flame emblem are as rich and diverse as The United Methodist Church. The insignia's birth quickly followed the union of two denominations in 1968: The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Following more than two dozen conceptualizations, a traditional symbol-the cross-was linked with a single flame with dual tongues of fire. The resulting insignia is rich in meaning. It relates The United Methodist church to God through Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame). The flame is a reminder of Pentecost when witnesses were unified by the power of the Holy Spirit and saw "tongues, as of fire" (Acts 2:3).
The elements of the emblem also remind us of a transforming moment in the life of Methodism's founder, John Wesley, when he sensed God's presence and felt his heart "strangely warmed." The two tongues of a single flame may also be understood to represent the union of two denominations.
The insignia, one with lettering and one without, was formally adopted by the General Conference in 1968 and registered in 1971 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Since 1996, the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist church has supervised the emblem's use.