What We Believe
We exist to provide a community where everyone can find and experience a Christ-centered life of purpose.
STATEMENT ON HOLY SCRIPTURE
We hold a high view of scripture, and feel that it should be read, studied, memorized, and wrestled with rather than being adapted or ignored. We believe the Bible is inspired and authoritative and reveals plainly God’s plan for living. The canonical books of the Old and New Testaments are the primary rule and authority for faith, morals, and service, against which all other authorities must be measured.
STATEMENT ON THE TRINITY
We believe that God is known and experienced in the Holy Trinity.
We believe in God the Father – scripture tells us that God created everything and that everything is for His glory. He is infinite, eternal, all-knowing (omniscient), all-powerful (omnipotent), and all-present (omnipresent). He is trustworthy, dependable, unchanging, holy, righteous, perfect, and full of grace.
We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God – Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life, and as John 14:6 says, “No one comes to the Father except through [Him].” Jesus became a man and lived a sinless life on earth. Through His death and resurrection, He offers us forgiveness for our sins and eternal life. He ascended into heaven, and He will one day return to bring about His never-ending Kingdom.
We believe in the Holy Spirit – who is the Helper, the Advocate, the Comforter. The Holy Spirit lives within us, and the Spirit’s role is to teach us, remind us of the message and example of Jesus, and to encourage, counsel, convict, empower, and guide us as we accept the gift of salvation from Jesus and as we live our lives growing as His disciples.
FOUNDATIONAL CREEDS OF CHRISTIANITY
The following summaries of the apostolic witness disclosed in Scripture have been affirmed by many Christian communities and express orthodox Christian teaching and Vestavia Methodist’s understanding of the Christian faith.
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead and buried; The third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, And sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, The holy catholic* church, The communion of saints, The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body, and The life everlasting. Amen.
THE NICENE CREED (A.D. 381)
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic* and apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
STATEMENT ON THE WESLEYAN WAY OF SALVATION
The gift of grace is available to all persons. God is not willing that any should be lost (Matthew 18:14), but that all may come to “the knowledge of truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). With St. Paul, thus, we affirm the proclamation found in Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
In the classic Wesleyan expression, grace works in numerous ways throughout our lives:
God’s prevenient grace refers to “the first dawning of grace in the soul,” even before we are aware of our need for God. It awakens our conscience, giving an initial sense of God and the first inclinations toward life in Him. Prevenient grace moves us toward God even when we aren’t aware of its work.
God’s justifying grace works by faith to bring us reconciliation to God through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is pardon for sin and ordinarily results in assurance, “God’s Spirit witnessing with our spirit that we are children of God.”
God’s sanctifying grace begins with God’s work of regeneration, sometimes referred to as “being born again.” It is God’s work in us as we continually turn to Him and seek to be perfected in His love. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit works to replace sin with the fruit of the Spirit. With Wesley, we believe that the process of sanctification works in us for the remainder of our life – as we seek to grow closer to God and to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
STATEMENT ON THE HOLY SACRAMENTS
Vestavia Hills Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Baptism marks the beginning of our lifelong journey as disciples of Jesus Christ. Through baptism, we are joined with the Triune God, the whole of Christ’s church, and our local congregation. The water and the work of the Holy Spirit in baptism convey God’s saving grace, the forgiveness of our sins, and new life in Jesus Christ.
Persons of any age may be baptized—infants, children, youth, and adults. Children of believing parents through Baptism become the special responsibility of the Church. They should be nurtured and led to personal acceptance of Christ, and by profession of faith confirm their Baptism.
Vestavia Hills Methodist Church baptizes in a variety of ways: immersion, pouring, or sprinkling. However, sprinkling is our primary mode. We also offer a “Remember Your Baptism” service using any of the modes of baptism. We do not require re-baptism for a person to join our church from another denomination. If a person has been baptized in the name of the Triune God (whether as an infant or an adult), we do not re-baptize because we believe in the steadfast faithfulness of God.
The Lord’s Supper (also called Holy Communion or Eucharist)
The Lord’s Supper is another name for the Eucharist, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving the church offers to God for all God has done, is doing, and will do to save us and renew all things in Christ. Through offering ourselves in praise and thanksgiving, and through receiving the bread and cup—which the Spirit makes for us the body and blood of Christ—celebrating the Lord’s Supper together nourishes and sustains us in our journey as disciples of Jesus Christ. As we pray together and receive the body and blood of Christ together, we are united with Christ, with one another, and in ministry to all the world.
All who love Christ, earnestly repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another are invited to join us in offering our prayer of thanksgiving and receive the body and blood of Christ – regardless of age or church membership we offer an “open table”. Wesley taught that Holy Communion was a “converting ordinance” and should not be withheld because of age or lack of understanding. The Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated and received regularly-John Wesley said, “as often as [one] can.”
STATEMENT ON CONFIRMATION
One of the important steps in our children’s lives is when they have the opportunity to claim the Christian faith for themselves and confirm their intention to live their life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. In the process of Confirmation, the student learns about our faith, our church, and what it means to live as a disciple each day. They then have the opportunity to be confirmed in the faith and to become a member of our congregation.
STATEMENT ON THE POWER OF PRAYER
Prayer is giving our attention to God in a two-way spiritual relationship where we talk to God and also listen to Him. Prayer is a conversation with Almighty God, and an invitation for God to be active in our life. In prayer, we praise God and express our gratitude to God for the blessings in our life and His presence in our life and in our world, and we ask for forgiveness for the sins we have committed – the things we have done or those we have left undone. We lift up to God the concerns on our heart for the various areas of our life, and we name others to God and ask God’s blessing, guidance, comfort, or care for their life. Like the Apostle Paul, we are called to pray continually – staying in frequent or constant connection with our God.
STATEMENT ON THE CHURCH
We believe the Christian Church is the community of believers under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We believe it is one, holy, apostolic, and catholic (universal). It is the redemptive fellowship in which the Word of God is preached by men and women divinely called, and the sacraments are duly administered according to Christ’s own appointment. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Church exists to be the Body of Christ and to be God’s greatest instrument in the redemption of the world.
STATEMENT ON CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Being a member of Vestavia Hills Methodist Church is a wonderful and life-changing decision. In 1stCorinthians chapter 12, we are reminded: “Now all of you together are the body of Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” When we join the church – we bring all that we are, and together we make up the Body of Christ.
Being a member of Vestavia Hills Methodist Church means, “I belong to this family.” It says that we are joined together to accomplish the work to which Jesus calls us. We support one another and care for one another. It says that we hold one another accountable to be faithful to following the Disciple’s Path for our lives so that we can grow and mature in our Christian walk.
VHMC members vow to God to support Vestavia Hills Methodist Church with their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. These vows mean that they will pray for our church, its ministries, volunteers, clergy, and staff. They will worship regularly with their church family, either in person or online, because we know that through worship we grow closer to God and closer to each other. These vows also mean that they will give generously to support the mission and ministry of our church. Also, that they will use their gifts, talents, and abilities to serve in and through the church – in doing this we see the Body of Christ working together to accomplish God’s will. Finally, these vows mean that they will invite others to come and experience our community of faith because, by doing so, they are helping to grow the Kingdom of God.
STATEMENT ON THE VALUE OF ALL PEOPLE
We believe that all persons are loved by God and created in God’s image. Therefore, we gladly welcome all who seek to grow in their relationship with God to attend worship services and participate in the church’s ministries. Every person is welcome and encouraged to find their place on the Disciples’ Path and seek to grow as a follower of Jesus Christ.
The Standard Sermons & The Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament of John Wesley
These two works serve as the standard of commentary and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. They provide a Wesleyan perspective that guides our teaching and leading.
The sermons of John Wesley can be found in the written work John Wesley’s 52 Standard Sermons, An Annotated Summary, by John S. Knox (Wipf and Stock, April 6, 2017), or online at https://www.wesleysheritage.org.uk/.