The United Methodist Church
Forest Hill is a United Methodist congregation. Methodism began in 18th century England as a reform movement within the Church of England. John and Charles Wesley, both Anglican priests, and their friends, sought to revive the life and witness of the Church of England by encouraging faithful Christian discipleship through the regular practice of the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship, studying the Scriptures, serving the poor, attention to the Sacraments, and mutual accountability and encouragement among fellow Christians. The early Methodists focused on personal and social holiness, sacramental worship and evangelical witness, and linked knowledge of God with a vital spiritual life. For Methodists then and now, head and heart go together recalling that we are taught to love God with heart and mind. So lifelong learning about God, ourselves, and the world is an important part of what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus. Likewise, we believe that transformed hearts and minds lead naturally to a concern for the lives of our neighbors, thus our strong emphasis on missions and social justice ministries.
Grace and Love
Methodists also place a significant emphasis on the grace and love of God. We believe, with a majority of Christians, that we are not our truest and best selves and have fallen short of being the people God has created and called us to be. We believe that our sin has separated us from God, from one another, from a proper relationship with creation, and even from our true selves. We cannot on our own overcome our condition and we cannot save and heal ourselves. But, God graciously and lovingly reaches out to us. Because God loves God longs to be in relationship with us. We see this as God sought to bless the nations of the world through Abraham’s descendants (Israel) and then by taking on flesh and coming to be among us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
We believe that in Jesus, God has become like us (human) in order that we might become more like God. That is, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, shows us what it means to be fully human, and he is the means by which God is redeeming and healing our humanity in order that we might share life and friendship with God. We discover in Jesus’ willingness to give his life away in service to others and in his concern for the poor, the hungry, the sinner, the marginalized and the outcast, not only what God is like but what we are called to be like. We see in Jesus’ sacrificial suffering and death a model for our own lives and a counter witness to a world hell-bent on putting self first that true life is found in serving God and others.
This means that salvation, which is offered to all, involves not only enjoying life with God after we die (going to heaven), but it means that we enjoy life with God and with one another here and now. Salvation is a present thing, it is a gift of God’s grace and not something we can earn. Salvation involves not only the forgiveness of our sins but also the renewing of God’s image within us as day by day we grow in grace and become more and more the person God created us to be, that is, we become more and more like Jesus who is both the model of true humanity and the image of God for us. We believe that salvation is found in trusting in and following the one who said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
Finally, we believe that following Jesus means becoming a part of his body, his people, the Church. We believe we were made for community, to share life with one another. The Church is not a voluntary society, or a social club, it is the body of Christ, gathered together by the Spirit of God for the life of the world. Because the Church is Christ’s body, it is Christ who offers the invitation to membership. This means that the Church is open to people of all ages, nations, and races. God longs to have a family. The Church is the beginning of that new family where all are invited to become friends of Jesus. Christianity is not a list of rules or a philosophy. Christianity is a way of life. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ. We believe that God is with us and longs to walk alongside us to make our lives beautiful and good. We hope you will come and see for yourself the joy and freedom found in being a friend of Christ.