Once Methodism came to America, its message sparked an evangelical awakening. Summed up as "all men need to be saved, all men can be saved, all men can know they are saved, and all men can be saved to the uttermost," the message of Methodism resounded in the hearts of the early American people. After its official founding at the Christmas conference of 1784, Methodism spread quickly, becoming the largest Protestant denomination in the country. As the country moved west, Methodism moved with it. It was said that with every wagon train going west, a Methodist circuit rider went with it.It was out of this revival that the Congregational Methodist Church came into existence in 1852. Desiring to share the message of a heart-warming religion, and organize the people for discipleship, the founding fathers of the CMC exercised their faith and formed a doctrine based on the beliefs and teachings of John Wesley, yet with the spirit of American liberty.
Congregational Methodists are conservative, evangelical Christians in the Wesleyan Arminian tradition. Our faith is grounded in the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God. We believe that the scriptures are God's revelation of Himself to us, as well as the rule of faith, containing all the truth necessary for faith and Christian living.We believe that God has revealed Himself in three distinct persons... the Father, the source of all life; the Son, the mediator of God's life; and the Spirit, the extension of God's life to us. This 3-in-1 God has made us for fellowship with Himself.We believe that Christians are meant to be an active part of the body of Christ. The Church is where encouragement, spiritual growth, and the development of spiritual gifts occur. The Church purpose is also for equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry. Our community, our nation, even our world, is our responsibility. As John Wesley stated, "I consider all the world as my parish." The Church, therefore, is to be the physical manifestation of Jesus to its community and world. This is accomplished by the indwelling Spirit empowering the saints to continue the ministry and publish the message of Jesus.
The Congregational Methodist Church is unique in that it maintains the Wesleyan doctrine, but is representative in government.
- Each church calls its own pastor and owns its own property.
- Each church has its own conference (business meetings).
- Each church is represented in its Annual Conference and in the General Conference by elected delegates from its membership and by its pastor.
- Ministers and laymen have the same opportunities in the conferences.
- Local churches participate in the support of its denominational ministries, missions, and other cooperative endeavors, by tithes of churches' income and gifts.
It is said by some that our uniqueness as conservative methodists in a day when liberalism is very common, sets us apart. We have held true to the Gospel as Wesley preached it. We have added no doctrines, nor have we taken any away. We believe, as Wesley did, that we are to preach the Christ of the Bible and to spread spiritual holiness throughout the land.
The mission of the Congregational Methodist Church is as changeless as the heart of God, and that has never changed. God has always loved us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) It is still the desire of God that all should come to salvation in Jesus Christ.
This verse in 2 Peter 3:9 shows that the purpose of God is immutable. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." Because of these treasured beginnings and the immutability of God, the Congregational Methodist Church is a 'message driven' organization that is dedicated to proclaiming and preserving the Gospel of Jesus Christ across continents, cultures and centuries.
THE HOLY TRINITY
We believe that the one God exists as three persons relating. The Father, the source of all life, shares His life, begetting the Son, and His life as the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son. The three are united in substance, equal in the sense of being God, and are distinct in their personhood.
GOD THE FATHER
God is a sovereign, just, holy, and loving heavenly Father. It is God’s nature to share Himself, and therefore exists as trinity. God shared Himself with sinful man when, because of His love for the world, He gave His only begotten Son. Because He is the source of all life, all living things are responsible to Him. He is a rewarder of those who obey Him, and the Judge of those who do evil.
GOD THE SON, JESUS CHRIST
God revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Eternal Son came to dwell among men as a man through the incarnation. The Holy Spirit was the agent of the incarnation, while the Virgin Mary was the instrument. By taking humanity to Himself, the Son of God lost nothing of His divinity, but was fully God, and fully human. As the perfect man, without sin, He gave His life as the perfect sacrifice for man. Having offered Himself “once for all,” He now exercises His High Priestly ministry by interceding on behalf of the saints, waiting for the day when He comes again.
GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity, is the giver and renewer of life. He works to convict of sin, convince of the truth, and call sinners to life in Christ.
It is the Holy Spirit who applies the work of Christ for salvation, and sanctification, as well as the empowerment for holy living. He is a comforter, an encourager, a giver of gifts, and our guide as we walk each day for Christ.
The Bible is the Word of God, written by holy men of old as they were enabled to communicate God’s truth without error. We therefore believe that the scripture is infallible and inerrant in its original autographs. The scripture is our rule of faith, and a revelation of God Himself. Written over a period of 1500 years by as many as 40 authors, the scripture is authoritative in matters of faith, doctrine, and practice.
God created man in His image, with the ability to relate to God in freedom, as immortal, spiritual beings. Man’s original state was one of holiness. After the fall, man became a corrupt expression of God’s image. Because of the corruption of our nature, man is incapable of any positive move toward God, except through the work of divine grace. This grace, which works in advance of our salvation to bring us to favor, toward salvation, is called prevenient grace. Only through the justifying, regenerating, sanctifying grace of God can we be saved from the pervasive corruption of sin, and be conformed to the image of God.
Salvation is the process by which God forgives sin, renews man to a right relationship with God, quickens a soul dead in trespasses and sin, and draws a soul to sanctification. Full salvation indicates a full redemption from all the effects of sin. Guilt, separation, death, and depravity all must be dealt with in salvation. Thus, the work of Christ is sufficient for all our needs. This salvation is grounded in the love of God, provided by the atoning work of Christ, and applied by the active work of the Holy Spirit.
Sanctification is a process beginning with initial sanctification, occurring at the new birth. It is at this time that the believer receives the Spirit and is changed. However, it is not long until a new Christian realizes that an inner battle between flesh and Spirit, or carnality and grace is happening in his soul. While the believer has been forgiven of his sins, inbred sin (carnality) still has a hold on the soul. God initiates a second stage in the sanctification process, bringing the fully committed Christian to a complete consecration. This is the crucifixion of the self- centered mind of the carnal Christian. As Wesley said, “The more dead to sin a Christian is, the more alive to God he becomes.” Thus, when a believer is fully consecrated, and trusts God for His promise of cleansing, the Holy Spirit fills the heart, cleanses from carnality and sin, and empowers for service.
SPEAKING IN UNKNOWN TONGUES
The Congregational Methodist Church believes that the gift of tongues, as stated in the Bible, is the ability to speak in an actual language, unknown to the speaker, but known to the hearer, for the purpose of evangelism. We do not accept the modern definition of tongues as a prayer language, or as ecstatic utterance, or as evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
The Christian Church was founded by Christ on the day of Pentecost. By the infilling of the Spirit, the followers of Christ become the Body of Christ. Being called out from the world to fellowship with Christ, the Church is a unique organism. It is universal, being made up of true believers of all nations, and it is holy, belonging to God.
We believe that God’s plan for the financing of His Church and work is with the tithes and gifts of its members.
We do not believe that the Congregational Methodist Church, or any other denomination, is the only true Church, nor that any other orthodox church is excluded. Those cults claiming to be Christian, but denying orthodox Christian doctrine, are not accepted as a part of the Body of Christ.
THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS
Whereas in the Old Testament God used specific people as priests, in the New Testament, God calls all believers to service and ministry. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit every Christian not only represents God, but also has been empowered to be an instrument of His grace to the world. The dual duties of representing God to man and man to God, belong to every born again Christian. The responsibility of witnessing, the ministry of prayer, and the use of our spiritual gifts are included in the privilege of being His priests.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Once a believer experiences new life in Christ, he strives to live a life holy and acceptable to God. The Christian life is a daily, disciplined walk with God. We believe the means of grace (prayer, Bible study, meditation, corporate worship, and fellowship) are all necessary for Christian growth.
As Christians, we should focus on reproducing the character or fruit of the Spirit, in our own character. We should also discover, develop, and use our personal spiritual gifts within the body.
As Christians in the Wesleyan Arminian tradition, we believe and teach that salvation is a relationship based on freedom. In order to love and trust Christ, we must be free to do so. The atonement provided through Christ was provided for all men, yet God calls us to turn to Him, trust Him, and walk with Him. Therefore, we believe in conditional security, and not unconditional security. While God always loves us, and nothing can separate us from His love, we always have the freedom to turn from our relationship with Him. The free will needed to have faith in Him remains intact throughout our life.
The Congregational Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments, Baptism and Communion. Baptism is a testimony to the inner work of salvation. Whether by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring, baptism itself does not save, but is a reflection of salvation as a cleansing of sin.
Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is a celebration of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Communion in the Congregational Methodist Church is open to all who believe and not to members only.
God created man to know Him intimately. Originally, God breathed into man His own breath, or life. Man, after the Fall, was deprived of the Spirit, or life of God. Salvation is the re-breathing of that life into the soul of man. That life, the very breath of God, is the basis of what the scripture means by eternal life. Jesus said, “This is eternal life that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) Knowing God in an intimate sense is to experience His life and therefore can be experienced in this life.
Eternal life continues in heaven as we experience God in a new way—face to face. Eternal life, therefore, starts now and continues in eternity forever. Those who finally reject the offer of salvation in Christ will spend eternity separated from God and condemned to suffer in hell for eternity.
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
We believe that the culmination of human history is designed by God and will occur according to His timing. The literal interpretation of scripture reveals that Christ will rapture His faithful in the twinkling of an eye, after which the anti-christ will be revealed, and the wrath of God poured out upon the earth. After seven years of tribulation, Christ is revealed in His glory and comes to reign for one thousand years on the earth. After this millennial reign, the earth will be destroyed, and a new heaven and new earth will be provided for the faithful to live in the presence of God forever.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
The Bible teaches that there are two resurrections. The first, the resurrection of the saved, will occur at the pre-tribulation rapture, when the dead in Christ arise first, and those who remain are changed in an instant, escaping death, and meet Him in the air.
The second resurrection, the resurrection of the dead, occurs after the millennial reign of Christ, at which time they will be judged according to their works, and condemned to the lake of fire forever.