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What We Believe

Foundational Documents of The United Methodist Church

Just as creeds such as the Apostles’ Creed summarize the belief of all Christians, the Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church and the Confessions of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church form a foundation of doctrine for United Methodists. They, along with Wesley’s Sermons on Several Occasions and Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, are “standards” of doctrine for United Methodists.

The Articles of Religion

When the Methodist movement in America became a church in 1784, John Wesley provided the American Methodists with a liturgy and a doctrinal statement, which contained twenty-four “Articles of Religion” or basic statements of belief. These Articles of Religion were taken from the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England—the church out of which the Methodism movement began—and had been the standards for preaching within the Methodist movement. When these articles were voted on by the American conference, an additional article was added regarding the American context, bringing the total number of articles to 25.

These articles became the basic standards for Christian belief in the Methodist church in North America. First published in the church’s Book of Discipline in 1790, the Articles of Religion have continued to be part of the church’s official statement of belief.

Go to the Articles of Religion

The Confession of Faith

The Confession of Faith is the statement of belief from The Evangelical United Brethren Church. Consisting of 16 articles, the current form of this statement of faith was presented and adopted by the 1962 General Conference.

When The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 from the union of several branches of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, both The Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith were adopted as basic statements of the Christian faith.

Go to the Confession of Faith

Read more about the history of how this statement of faith came to be

Wesley’s Sermons and Notes on the New Testament

Wesley’s sermons contain his basic understanding of the Christian faith and his thinking about how we are to live out this faith both personally and corporately. His written sermons were intended to teach the basic beliefs of the faith as well as nurture and encourage his followers in their discipleship.

Wesley’s Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament  provided his followers with tools for interpreting the Bible. These notes contained both Wesley’s own ideas as well as insights borrowed from other interpreters and commentaries.

Read Wesley’s Sermons on Several Occasions

Read Wesley’s Notes Upon the New Testament

Read more about the history of these foundational documents


Adapted from Who Are We? Doctrine, Ministry and Mission of the United Methodist Church (Leader’s Guide) by Kenneth L. Carder (Cokesbury, 1998), pp. 33-34, 36, 39;

This We Believe: The Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith of The United Methodist Church (Student) by Norman P. Madsen (Cokesbury, 1987), p. 5, 9; and 10;

The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church—2008 (The United Methodist Publishing House, 2008), p. 41-74.