United Methodist

Jesus has one Church, and all Christian churches are part of it. Forest Hills is proud to be a part of the United Methodist family of Jesus’ Church. United Methodism has a distinct history, special methods, and a unique culture.
In the 1700s a Church of England priest named John Wesley had a personal experience of God’s love for him, which he described saying, “I felt my heart strangely warmed.” After this experience Wesley traveled all over the country telling others of God’s special love for them. He organized those that responded to his message into small groups and suggested they follow a regular routine (hence the method of Methodism) of spiritual practices and faith formation. Part of that method was doing good as a blessing to others in need. Those who were a part of this Methodist Movement continued Wesley’s ministry, also taking it to the early American colonies.
In the United States, the Methodist preachers and congregations formed the Methodist Episcopal Church after the Revolutionary War (1784). The word “episcopal” meant that they would have bishops presiding over the congregations and pastors. A number of other Methodist churches and connections also formed, including the German-speaking ones that eventually became The Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968, The Evangelical United Brethren and the Methodist Episcopal denominations merged to form The United Methodist Church. Later that same year, Forest Hills United Methodist Church was started.
Theology: United Methodism is part of the protestant tradition. Wesley taught the spiritual faith and life as described in the Bible. When asked what a Methodist was, Wesley would say, “A Methodist, simply, is a Christian.” Methodism’s theological contribution to the wider Church includes placing emphasis on salvation as a process, holiness of both heart and life, and intentional spiritual formation through small groups.
Wesley taught that although salvation includes the individual being restored by Jesus’ death and resurrection in a loving relationship to God, it is also an ongoing process. Salvation is not a status or an accomplishment. It is a relationship with God in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. It is a continual growing in love to God and others. Just as with any relationship, our relationship with God is intended to grow and develop. Wesley pointed to the biblical explanations of this spiritual growth, made possible by God’s grace, in terms of prevenient grace, justifying grace, regenerating grace, sanctifying grace, and perfecting grace.
Our love relationship with God affects our whole being, causing us to grow both spiritually and in our behaviors. God works His grace into us and then calls upon us to work that grace out into our daily lives. Wesley called this “holiness of heart and life.” Our faith in Jesus changes how we live. It affects what we do. Because United Methodism puts so much emphasis on holy living, it is often described as being part of the Holiness Movement of churches.
United Methodism has a proud heritage of social action. Since the teaching and example of John Wesley, Methodists have been intentional to care for all of God’s people, and to care for all of the person. Methodism has always sent bearers of God’s love all over the world. Methodism has always found ways to care for the spiritual and temporal/physical needs of people. Social justice has always been an important focus of Methodism, from founding schools, hospitals, orphanages, food pantries, soup kitchens, to running ministries of mercy and help to all those in need, and staying very active in the social issues and concerns of the day.
Forest Hills continues to keep social justice and personal faith closely connected. We are known in our community as a church that cares!
Wesley gave three “General Rules” for all Methodists:
1. Do no harm.
2. Do good.
3. Attend the practices of God (meaning, do those things that keep you in love with God).
Each of these people must do individually. Yet Methodism has always held that people must also join together to do these in ways we cannot on our own. Therefore, Methodism has always been a connection.
Local churches are the local “units” of God’s Church. Yet just as individual people need to connect together with others, so individual United Methodist congregations are connected together in what are called “annual conferences,” often established along state lines in the United States. These “annual conferences” provide the connections that enable greater ministry that individual churches cannot do on their own. A bishop presides over an annual conference. Forest Hills is part of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Here is the link to the web site of the general United Methodist denomination. The broader work of United Methodism is organized into boards and agencies. Here are links to some of them.
To subscribe to the United Methodist News Service, and get updates of what’s happening within United Methodism. 
Just as with any family, not everyone thinks alike within United Methodism. There is, however, a unifying Book of Discipline (meaning instruction or teaching) that expresses the official beliefs, behaviors, and organizations of United Methodist congregations. It is a lengthy book, but special interest should be given to the part that is called “The Social Principles,” as they provide guidance for how Christians are to live in the world today.