New Hope United Methodist Church
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Empty Cross

Beliefs

Question: What do United Methodists believe about healing?

Answer: United Methodists believe that scripture strongly affirms ministries of spiritual healing. This healing is God’s work of offering persons balance, harmony, and wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationships. The New Testament records that Jesus himself healed the stranger and sick and sent out his disciples on ministries of healing. The Church’s healing ministry is no substitute for medicine or proper care of one’s health. Rather, those who minister spiritual healing are channels of the great mystery of God’s love. The greatest healing is the reconciliation of a human being with God and when this occurs, physical healing sometimes occurs, mental and emotional balance if often restored, and relationships are healed. --Taken from the United Methodist Book of Worship

Question:  Why do we say we believe in the "holy catholic church" in the Apostles' Creed? Is this a reference to the Roman Catholic Church?

Answer:  The expression “holy catholic church” in the Apostles' Creed means the one universal church of Christ.  The word "catholic" as used here means "universal."  It is not a reference to the Catholic Church.

Question:  Why do we say creeds?

Answer:  Unlike some churches that require affirmation of a strict list of beliefs as a condition of membership, The United Methodist Church is not a creedal church.

So why do we recite creeds during worship?

The United Methodist Hymnal contains nine creeds or affirmations. Only two of these (Nicene and Apostles') are strictly considered to be creeds because they are products of ecumenical councils. The remaining affirmations are taken from Paul’s letters (Corinthians, Colossians, Romans and Timothy) along with affirmations from the United Church of Canada, the Korean Methodist Church and the United Methodist Social Affirmation.

United Methodists are not required to believe every word of the affirmations. Church founder, John Wesley himself did not agree with a historic (Athanasian) creed, because he disliked its emphasis on condemning people to hell. Affirmations help us come to our own understanding of the Christian faith. They affirm our unity in Christ with those followers who first wrote them, the many generations who have recited them before us and those who will recite them after we have gone.

Question:  What is the creed of The United Methodist Church?

Answer:  The Social Creed was originally adopted by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1908.  “The Methodist Social Creed originated...to express Methodism's outrage over the lives of the millions of workers in factories, mines, mills, tenements and company towns....The Methodist Federation for Social Service immediately took up the challenge of getting the 1908 General Conference to address the social crisis.  The key strategy was to secure adoption of a statement on "The Church and Social Problems. " Proponents of the Social Creed came up with a "list of 11 social reforms the group believed the church should champion, including the abolition of child labor and an end to the sweatshop system." (Interpreter, April 1988)

The Social Creed was continually expanded and revised until, in 1972, it was completely redesigned and renamed the Social Principles. The  Social Creed now follows the Social Principles in the Book of Discipline.

Question:  Why does the United Methodist Church ordain women?

Answer:  Clergywomen have been part of Methodism since John Wesley licensed Sarah Crosby to preach in 1761. Although women were ordained in the Methodist tradition as early as the late 1800s, it was the May 4, 1956 General Conference vote for full clergy rights that forever changed the face of ordained clergy.


Social Issues

Question: How do statements become official positions of the Church?

Answer: They are sent in as petitions to General Conference every four years by general agencies, annual conferences, local churches, individual members, and groups. Once submitted as petitions, most of them are worked on by delegates in a legislative committee. The legislative committees accept, reject, or amend the petitions, then report their recommendations to the General Conference plenary; all delegates then vote on their recommendations. 

Question:  I have been married before.  Can I get remarried and still be a member?

Answer: Yes, divorced and remarried persons are welcome to join The United Methodist Church.

Question:  What is The United Methodist Church's position on cloning?

Answer:  The United Methodist Church opposes the cloning of humans, including the cloning of human embryos. 

Question:  What is The United Methodist Church's position on evolution?

Answer:  The official statement on  Science and Technology says in part, "We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology."  The Church also opposes introducing theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into public school curriculum. 

Question:  Does The United Methodist Church believe that premarital sex is OK?

Answer:  The official statement on  Human Sexuality states: "Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are  affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage."

Question:  What's the difference between Methodists and all the other church denominations?

Answer:  The contemporary differences between the "Main Line Protestant" denominations (Presbyterian, Methodist, American Baptist, Episcopal, American Lutheran, Congregational, United Church of Christ) may seem superficial at first glance. All believe in God, the divinity of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How they express their beliefs in worship style and local mission activities vary from congregation to congregation. How they are organized and choose their pastors set them apart institutionally. How they serve the sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism set them apart historically. United Methodists are unique in a number of ways:
  • We insist that personal spirituality and social responsibility cannot be separated; in the end how we live our lives is our true religion.
  • We do not take the Bible literally but that is not to say we take it lightly. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in 18th century England also suggested that along with the Bible as the primary source of God's revelation, reason, church tradition and personal experience also reveal who God is and what God wills for us today.
  • We encourage diversity of thought and expression about our faith, rejecting dogmatic conformity. United Methodists can be liberal or conservative, contemplative or charismatic. They love to sing the old hymns or learn the new ones, too.
  • We are an "open communion" church; all people regardless of church membership are welcome to receive the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, as well as the programs and ministry of the church.
  • We are a "connectional church," interconnected by a common mission and network of resources to 38,000 other United Methodist churches in North America and many more around the world.
Salvation

Question:  Do United Methodists believe that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary to go to heaven?

Answer: Yes, United Methodists do believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way the Bible gives as clearly God's gift and way of salvation and heaven.  God can save anyone that God chooses to save and we cannot decide whom God will save.  We simply trust the plain teaching of scripture.  See John 3:16, Acts 4:12 and many other texts.

Our belief in this unique path of salvation can never be used to put down other religions and the gifts that they have to give to the world, even to Christians.  That we have a gospel to proclaim is not grounds for hurting others.  We can and must be friends with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and others. In dialogue with them we learn and they learn.  In a time when religion is so much in the news and on our minds, we need to be vigilant against our own hostility and follow Jesus in the way of love.

Interreligious Issues

Question:  What does The United Methodist Church teach about the Virgin Mary?

Answer:  The United Methodist Church has no official stance or teaching on the Virgin Mary other than what is in Scripture and in the ecumenical creeds: the Apostles' and the Nicene. We affirm her role in God's gift of Christ to the world – – being the mother of Jesus, her care and nurture of him and her being a disciple.

Question: Can United Methodists use the sign of the cross or is this a Catholic only practice?

Answer: The sign of the cross is a Christian practice and is associated with the catholic side of the church – – Roman, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and some United Methodists and Presbyterians. There is nothing in United Methodism that either forbids or encourages the practice. Since The United Methodist Church is, generally speaking, a product of the Protestant Reformation, it has a piety that tends to be iconoclastic--that is rejecting statues, icons, and many of the "catholic" practices. Again, this is a church cultural thing and not something that is in print.

Question:  What does The United Methodist Church teach about the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth?

Answer:  The Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith, the doctrinal statements of The United Methodist Church, include statements of belief that Jesus was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary. The Immaculate Conception is different from the Virgin birth.   It is a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin.  It is a belief about Mary, not about the birth or conception of Jesus. The United Methodist Church does not subscribe to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.  John Wesley and others in the Anglican Church and the non–conforming Protestant churches of England held negative views of some Roman Catholic doctrine and practice, thus this teaching is not part of our doctrinal heritage.

Baptism

Question:  Do I have to be baptized in order to be saved?

Answer:  No, but baptism is a gift of God’s grace to be received as part of the journey of salvation. To refuse to accept baptism is to reject one of the means of grace that God offers us.

Question:  Does baptism make me a member of the church?

Answer:  Yes, baptism is the act of initiation and incorporation into the universal church of Jesus Christ, The United Methodist Church, and the local congregation, as our ritual makes very clear. When you were baptized you became a bapized member of the church. The difference between Baptized Members and Full Professing Members of the chruch is Full Professing members have the privilege and responsibility of the governance (can vote on the board and hold office) of the church, are counted in statistics of church membership, and other such matters. To be a “full professing member” is to make a statement of commitment and participation in a community of disciples. Being a “full professing member” expresses continuing action both within the faith community and in the world. It is a statement about an individual’s ongoing relationship and commitment to God and the church through Jesus Christ.

Question:  Can I have my infant christened?

Answer:  Christening is not a separate or different service. It is the same thing as baptism.

Question:  Do I have to choose godparents when I have my child baptized?

Answer:  Parents may choose a person or persons to serve as a godparent, however godparents are not required in The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Book of Discipline uses the term "godparent" along with the word "sponsor" and does so because in different regions and different churches one or the other of the terms is familiar and comfortable. Both derive from the ancient practice of the church of a mature, reliable Christian serving as a mentor and encourager of persons coming into the Christian life in baptism, whether adult or child. In all infant baptisms, the parents or other family member serve as the primary sponsor, and in many churches another Christian or two are named as "godparents"--sponsors and encouragers for the child. In the case of adults, the sponsor walks with the person on a journey of conversion, until the day they are baptized--perhaps weeks or months after having learned and experienced the way Christians live and think. When it is a child or infant, the sponsor/godparent and the parents walk with the child on a journey of conversion until they claim the way of Christ as his or her own at confirmation or some other profession of faith.

Question:  What is the appropriate age for baptism?

Answer:  Baptism is part of a lifelong process of salvation, so any age is an appropriate age for baptism. Families seeking baptism for an infant or child, or youth or adults seeking baptism should contact the pastor for consideration of and preparation for baptism. Baptism happens only once, so those baptized as children may "renew and reaffirm" their baptism in rituals of "confirmation" and "reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant."

Question:  Does The United Methodist Church accept the baptism of other denominations?

Answer:  Yes, The United Methodist Church recognizes the baptism of other Christian denominations. We do not rebaptize those who have already received Christian baptism in any form.  The Book of Discipline says, "A member in good standing in any Christian denomination who has been baptized and who desires to unite with The United Methodist Church may be received as either a baptized or a professing member by a proper certificate of transfer from that person's former church, or by a declaration of Christian faith, and upon affirming willingness to be loyal to The United Methodist Church…It is recommended that instruction in the faith, work, and polity of the Church be provided for all such persons."

Question: Where can I find a record of my baptism?

Answer: United Methodist records of baptism are kept by the local church (as long as the congregation exists).

If you know the name and location of the church where you were baptized, you can use the  Find-A-Church website to obtain contact information.  If you need assistance locating or identifying the church, contact InfoServ.

If the congregation ceases to exist, its records are transferred to the annual (regional) conference archives. The General Commission on Archives and History provides an  online directory of local and regional archives.

Confirmation

Question: What is the appropriate age for confirmation?

Answer: "Confirmation" is a moment of recognition of the work of God's grace in the life of a person previously baptized as well as an embrace of being a disciple. It often occurs when youth enter their junior high school years, but it may occur at any time that a person is ready to profess their faith. Most United Methodist churches plan for a time of the year when there is a class or group leading to the ritual of confirmation. In some areas of the country this is aimed at those who are late elementary-school ages. In other areas it may aim at those in late junior high or early high school. The pastor or other church staff should be contacted for more information about preparation for confirmation.

Question:  Do adults take confirmation classes?

Answers:  In some churches, adults prepare for baptism and membership in small group settings, such as an orientation or new member class.  These adult classes may focus on the history and beliefs of The United Methodist Church and the work of that local congregation.

Genealogical Research

Question:  Where I can conduct genealogical research?

Answer:  The General Commission on Archives and History provides a  research Web site where you can learn how to research your United Methodist ancestors.

Adoption

Question:  Does the United Methodist Church offer adoption services?

Answer:  There are several United Methodist-related agencies that offer adoption services or other educational, counseling or family support services.  

Financial assistance through The United Methodist Church is not directly available to those going through the adoption process.  Persons who adopt through the United Methodist–related services may pay less than through other agencies.  Individual members, church organizations and local churches give generously to the United Methodist–related adoption services, making these reduced costs possible.

Each agency can explain the services, resources , and financial assistance it offers. Visit the  Children, Youth and Family Services Directory to find agencies near you.

Giving

Question:  What is the Church’s stance on tithing?

Answer:  The Church expects pastors is to "teach and model generous Christian giving with a focus on tithing as God’s standard of giving." In addition, each annual (regional) conference, as part of its responsibilities in the area of stewardship, is to "educate the local church that tithing is the minimum goal of giving in The United Methodist Church."

Question:  How are local church apportionments figured?

Answer:  The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) recommends “the formulas by which all apportionments to the annual conferences shall be determined, subject to the approval of the General Conference.” (¶ 806.1d, 2008 Book of Discipline) The apportionment formula used by GCFA is in the  Financial Commitment of The United Methodist Church 2009-2012 booklet.

Each annual conference has the authority to decide its own formula for the apportionments to local churches within its boundary. Annual conferences can use different approaches to determining the formula; for example, some use membership or church financial health. The annual conference formula is in each conference journal.  If you have questions about your annual conference apportionments, talk with your conference treasurer.

Question:  Where can I get information about apportionments?

Answer:  The  Sharing God's Gifts Web site offers stories, video clips, downloadable resources and information on each of the apportioned funds. The article  “The Meaning of the Apportionment Dollar" addresses Biblical stewardship,the United Methodist connection for mission , the theological foundations and Wesleyan heritage for apportionments as a system of giving.

The  General Council on Finance and Administration also offers other information about general church and annual conference apportionments on their Web site. Your  conference treasurer can provide information about your annual conference benevolences.

Question:  Where can I find resources on annual giving campaigns?

Answer:  The  Stewardship Office of the General Board of Discipleship provides resources and offers guidance to local churches in implementing effective stewardship campaigns and planning for a year-round emphasis on stewardship and giving. Contact the  Stewardship Office staff  for more information.

Question: Where can I find resources on fundraising?

Answer:  The  Stewardship Office of the General Board of Discipleship provides resources and offers guidance to local churches in planning fundraisers, developing church budgets and stewardship campaigns. Contact the  Stewardship Office staff for more information.

Question:  How should our church create its budget?

Answer:  The  Stewardship Office of the General Board of Discipleship provides resources and offers guidance to local churches on preparing a budget.   Visit the Web site for answers to the following questions about church budgets.

  • What is the relationship between the annual operating budget and the annual campaign?
  • What is a narrative budget? Is it different from a line-item budget?
  • What percentage of a church's total budget should be allocated for staff salaries and benefits?
  • How much money should a church keep in a reserve fund?
Service

Question:  How can I help with disaster relief?

Answer:  The United Methodist Committee on Relief  (UMCOR) provides emergency food, shelter and medicine after natural and man-made disasters, provides humanitarian relief to refugees and displaced persons and works to overcome world hunger and poverty.

 Contributions to UMCOR may be sent a variety of ways.  One hundred percent of your tax-deductible gifts go to the emergency response or Advance project that you designate.  Relief supply  materials are needed to be shipped to disaster areas. The UMCOR Sager Brown and UMCOR West facilities serve as material resource depots for assembling, storing, and deploying UMCOR supply kits and bulk materials worldwide. Check the Relief Supplies section of the web site for the most current needs, or contact the Depot directly.

Volunteers are needed after natural disasters to help with clean-up, debris removal, and rebuilding.  Learn more UMCOR conducts disaster response training every year. Well trained and prepared local leaders can greatly alleviate the impact of a disaster. For more information on emergency response training, call 1-202-548-4002.

Question:  I want to take our youth group on a mission trip.  Where can I find opportunities?

Answer:  The Youth Ministries office of the General Board of Discipleship lists both U.S. and international  youth mission opportunities. The Volunteers in Mission coordinators for your area can also help you find mission trips that are appropriate for youth.

Question:   How can I help make a difference in the world? 

Answer:  Local churches offer lots of opportunities to make a difference in the community and beyond.  Through Find-A-Church, you can discover programs and ministries in your area where you can help serve others.

Short-term mission opportunities are available throughout the U.S. and worldwide.   Volunteer programs through Mission Volunteers and United Methodist  Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) encompass a variety of age groups and interest areas, from disaster relief and recovery, teaching and Bible study, construction projects to medical relief.  Short-term mission opportunities include:
The Christian Year

Question:   What special days of the Christian year does The United Methodist Church celebrate? 

Answer:  With other Christian churches, The United Methodist Church celebrates the special days of the Christmas season (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany) and the Easter season (Lent, Easter, Pentecost) as well as special Christian days that fall during what is known as Ordinary Time.  These include Trinity Sunday, All Saints' Day and Christ the King Sunday. The  Planning Calendar lists the special days of the Christian year and their corresponding liturgical colors.

Question:  What do the candles in our Advent wreath mean? Why is there one rose candle and one white candle?

Answer:  The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. In some churches, four purple candles, one for each week in Advent, are used with one larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle. Other churches prefer three purple or blue candles with one candle being rose or pink, to represent joy. The lighting of the first candle symbolizes expectation, the second symbolizes hope, the third joy and the fourth purity. The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world.

Question:  What is the "Hanging of the Greens?"

Answer:  Many churches hold a service of preparation for Christ's coming, which includes hanging greenery traditionally associated with everlasting life. Greens such as cedar for royalty, fir and pine boughs for everlasting life, holly symbolizing Jesus' death and ivy representing the resurrection are used.

Question:  Why are there different colored altar cloths?  What do the colors mean?

Answer:  The Christian year contains two cycles: the Christmas Cycle (Advent-Christmas-Epiphany) and the Easter Cycle (Lent-Easter-Pentecost). Within each cycle are a preparatory season symbolized by the color purple and a festival season symbolized by the color white. After each cycle there is an ordinary time of growth symbolized the color green. Thus there is a sequence of seasons using purple, white, and green in that order twice each year.  ( The United Methodist Book of Worship, Copyright © 1992 The United Methodist Publishing House)
  • Traditionally purple, representing both royalty and penitence, is used during Advent and Lent.
  • Blue symbolizes hope and may also be used during Advent.
  • White and gold are used at Christmas and Easter to symbolize joy and festivities.
  • Red symbolizes the color of fire to represent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and times when the work of the Holy Spirit is emphasized.  During Holy Week it represents the blood of Christ.  Red is also used for ordinations, church anniversaries and civil observances such as Memorial Day and Thanksgiving.
  • Green represents growth and is used during Ordinary Time (the season after Epiphany and the season after Pentecost.)
Question:  What is the significance of ashes being placed on the forehead on Ash Wednesday?

Answer:  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent.  Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before God and our human mortality.  The service focuses on both themes, helping us to realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship.  Historically, ashes signified purification and sorrow for sins.

It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday service to burn to produce ashes for this service.  Sometimes a small card or piece of paper is distributed on which each person writes a sin or hurtful or unjust characteristic. The cards are then brought to the altar to be burned with the palm branches. The ash cross onthe forehead is an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance for sins.

Question:  Do you have to wear the ashes all day on Ash Wednesday?

Answer:  There is no rule about removing the ashes from one's forehead on Ash Wednesday. Many people prefer to leave them on for the day as a reminder of the ritual. Others might prefer to remove the ashes after the service. That is also perfectly acceptable. The ashes are, after all, just an outward symbol of the inward purification and penitence we are seeking in the Lenten journey.

Question:  What is Lent and why does it last forty days?

Answer:  Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday.   Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring."  The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan.

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.  In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism.  Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.  Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter" and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.

Question:  What does The United Methodist Church say about fasting?

Answer:  Fasting has been a part of Methodism from it's early beginnings. John Wesley considered fasting an important part of a Christian's life and he personally fasted weekly. To Wesley, fasting was an important way to express sorrow for sin and penitence for overindulgence in eating and drinking. He believed it allowed more time for prayer and was more meaningful if combined with giving to the poor. Wesley did advise caution against extreme fasting and against fasting for those in fragile health. Visit  John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life for more on John Wesley and fasting.  

The penitential season of Lent is a season of the Church year which commemorates the forty days Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness before he began his public ministry. Although fasting usually refers to any practice of restricting food, there is a distinction, in the Church, between fasting (limiting food to one full meal a day, with two smaller meals allowed) and abstinence (abstaining from eating meat.) Abstinence from meat one day a week is a universal act of penitence.  It is important that you check with your physician before attempting a total fast (no food, water only) for more than 24 hrs.

Lent is a very personal time for individuals, so The United Methodist Church does not have official guidelines on how individuals should observe Lent.  Some choose to give up a certain food, however a spirit of fasting can include restriction of luxuries such as television watching, shopping and spending time on the computer. We can give away clothing or possessions to those in need, give our time by volunteering or we can pray more often alone or with family members. The article " Connecting Worship and Daily Living in Lent" offers many suggestions for personal Lenten practices.

Question:  What is the definition of "meat" during the lenten season?

Answer:  Meat is the defined as "the flesh of warm-blooded animals." So chicken would be considered a "meat," while fish would not. A traditional "fast" during the Lenten season is to give up meat on Friday. Since Friday is the day of Jesus' death on the cross, it is the traditional day of penitence and reflection for Christians. The giving up of meat on that day, or the voluntary fast from sugar, caffeine, television, etc., all serve to help the one fasting to connect more deeply with God.

Question:  What is the significance of purple during Lent?

Answer:  Purple is the color used for the liturgical season of Lent. If your church observes Lent, you will probably notice that the vestments – – the cloths used on the altar, lectern, or pulpit – – will be purple. Your worship leaders will use purple stoles during this season. Lent's color is purple because this color signifies penitence, mourning, and suffering. Purple is also the color of royalty, hinting at the coming resurrection of Jesus.

Many churches will strip the worship space of color or will use the color black on Good Friday. Then on Easter, the colors switch to white for the Easter season.

Question:  What is the meaning of Palm Sunday?

Answer:  Palm Sunday (also called Passion Sunday) is the beginning of the Christian observance of Holy Week. It begins with the celebration of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem before the Passover Festival (see Mark 11:1-10, Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-19). The name, Palm Sunday, comes from this same story. "A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds ... were shouting, 'Hosanna to the Son of David!/ Blessed is the one who comes / in the name of the Lord." (Matthew 21:8-9, NRSV)

The Palm Sunday service also includes references to what is to come during the somber week to follow, when Jesus' Crucifixion takes place. The celebration and loyalty of the entry into Jerusalem turns into the pain and betrayal of Good Friday.

Question:  What is Maundy Thursday?

Answer:  Maundy Thursday, also called Holy Thursday, is a service to commemorate Jesus' Last Supper and the beginning of our sacrament, the Lord's Supper. The word Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, which means "commandment." At the Last Supper, Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them (John 13:34). Prior to breaking the bread with the disciples, Jesus washed their feet. Maundy Thursday worship services include Holy Communion and sometimes foot washing as well. 

Question:  What is a Tenebrae service?

Answer:  The word "tenebrae" comes from the Latin meaning "darkness."  The Tenebrae is an ancient Christian Good Friday service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to symbolize the events of that week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus' burial.  This increasing darkness symbolizes the approaching darkness of Jesus' death and of hopelessness in the world without God. The service concludes in darkness, sometimes with a final candle, the Christ candle, carried out of the sanctuary, symbolizing the death of Jesus. A loud noise may also sound symbolizing the closing of Jesus' tomb. The worshipers then leave in silence to ponder the impact of Christ's death and await the coming Resurrection.

Question:  The word Easter is not in the Bible so how does this name represent the day Christ arose?

Answer:  Easter is the oldest festival of the Christian Church. In the early Church, new converts sat in vigil during the night before Easter. Then they were baptized and received their first Holy Communion on Easter Day.

According to St. Bede (673-735), the name "Easter" was derived from the Saxon spring goddess, "Eostre." As in the case of Christmas, the Christian observance of Easter took the place of an existing pagan ritual.

The date for Easter is set in relation to the Jewish Passover. Since Jesus' Last Supper and crucifixion occurred during the feast of the Passover, Christ is seen as the Paschal lamb, the new sacrifice. So the Christian observance of Jesus' death and resurrection are forever tied to the Jewish Passover feast.

The date for Easter in the Western Church is set in relation to the Passover full moon. (The Eastern Church calculates the date differently.) The date for Easter always falls between March 21 and April 25.

Question:  Why is Easter on a different day each year?

Answer:  In 325 AD, the Council of Nicea set the date for the celebration of Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox, March 21.  For this reason, the date will change each year and can fall anywhere from March 22 to April 25.

Question:  What is the symbolism of the Easter Lily?

Answer:  The white lily stands for purity. It has traditionally been used in Christian art connected to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She has often been pictured with the angel Gabriel and Gabriel is coming to her with a spray of lilies in his hand to announce that she will be the mother of the Messiah. It is also a sign of the Resurrection. It, like other flowers that come from bulbs seemingly die away then return with new life each year. Because they are white, they signify the pure new life that comes through the Resurrection of Jesus.

Question:  Does The United Methodist Church have a position about Halloween?

Answer:  The United Methodist Church does not have an official statement or position regarding Halloween. Church members are free to make their own decisions about their participation in Halloween activities.  Local churches can decide if they wish to offer traditional or alternative activities for children at Halloween.

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New Hope United Methodist Church     2098 New Hope Road | Hertford, NC 27944
This page was last updated Tuesday, July 1, 2014.