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Taking an active stance in society is nothing new for followers of John Wesley. He set the example for us to combine personal and social piety. Ever since predecessor churches to United Methodism flourished in the United States, we have been known as a denomination involved with people's lives, with political and social struggles, having local to international mission implications. Such involvement is an expression of the personal change we experience in our baptism and conversion. The United Methodist Church believes God's love for the world is an active and engaged love, a love seeking justice and liberty. We cannot just be observers. So we care enough about people's lives to risk interpreting God's love, to take a stand, to call each of us into a response, no matter how controversial or complex. The church helps us think and act out a faith perspective, not just responding to all the other "mind-makers-up" that exist in our society.
Excerpt from The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church 2008. Copyright ©2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.
To help guide our thinking and acting about how we live in and are in engaged in ministry in the world, The United Methodist Church has created statements to guide the church in its efforts to create a world of justice.
Our Social Creed is a basic statement of our convictions about the fundamental relationships between God, God's creation and humanity. This basic statement is expanded in a more lengthy statement called the Social Principles. This statement explains more fully how United Methodists are called to live in the world. Part of our Book of Discipline, the Social Principles serve as a guide to official church action and our individual witness.
We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of creation. We believe in the Holy Spirit, through whom we acknowledge God’s gifts, and we repent of our sin in misusing these gifts to idolatrous ends.
Preface The Social Principles are a prayerful and thoughtful effort on the part of the General Conference to speak to the human issues in the contemporary world from a sound biblical and theological foundation as historically demonstrated in United Methodist traditions.
Preamble We, the people called United Methodists, affirm our faith in God our Creator and Father, in Jesus Christ our Savior, and in the Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guard.
The Natural World We affirm that we're responsible for the way we use the Lord's creation. We support social policies that promote the wise use of water, air, soil, minerals, and plants. We support the conservation of energy and oppose energy-using technologies that threaten human health. We're concerned for the humane treatment of animals and the respectful use of space.
The Nurturing Community We affirm the family and work to strengthen its relationships. We affirm the sanctity of marriage and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We recognize divorce as regrettable and intend to minister to the members of divorced families. We affirm the integrity of single persons. We recognize that sexuality is a good gift of God and that sex between a man and woman is only to be clearly affirmed in the marriage bond. We recognize the tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion and urge prayerful consideration by all parties involved. We assert the right of every person to die with dignity.
The Social Community We affirm all persons as equally valuable in God's sight. We reject racism and assert the rights of racial minorities to equal opportunities in employment, education, voting, housing, and leadership. We urge social practices that will uphold the rights of religious minorities, of children, youth, young adults, and the aging, of women, and of disabled persons. We affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol and illegal drugs, and we support the rehabilitation of drug-dependent persons.
The Economic Community All economic systems are under the judgment of God. We believe the private ownership of property is a trusteeship under God and must be responsibly managed. We support the right of employees and employers to organize for collective bargaining. We affirm the right of safe and meaningful work and creative leisure. We support efforts to ensure truth in pricing, packaging, lending, and advertising; and we urge people to evaluate their consumption of goods in the light of the quality of life. We call on Christians to abstain from gambling and to be in ministry with persons who are the victims of this societal menace.
The Political Community We hold governments responsible for the protection of people's basic freedoms. We believe that neither church nor state should attempt to dominate the other. We call for freedom of information and quality education. We defend the right of individuals to practice conscientious, non-violent civil disobedience. We support government measures to reduce crimes consistent with the basic freedoms of persons; and we urge the creation of new systems of rehabilitation.
The World Community God's world is one world. We hold nations accountable for unjust treatment of their citizens. We affirm the right of people in developing nations to shape their own destiny; and we applaud efforts to establish a more just international economic order. We believe war is incompatible with the teachings of Christ, and we claim that it is the primary moral duty of every nation to resolve disputes peacefully. We endorse the United Nations and commend all who pursue world peace through law.