The Methodist Denomination
There are approximately seventy million Methodists worldwide. Methodism was founded by English college students, most notably Charles and John Wesley. In 1739 they adopted a set of "methods" or disciplines by which Christians could improve their living of the Christian faith. The history of Methodism in the United States dates back to Baltimore in 1784.
Methodists tend to be less strict in regard to what is required for belief and more open to accepting differences of opinion among believers. They tend to be more concerned with "deeds" than "creeds." The Methodist have a well-defined church-government with Bishops heading the various regional conferences, Elders serving as the pastors of Churches, and Deacons as associates. Methodist churches of the same denomination often differ to some degree in their theology and practice.
There are at least 19 Wesleyan Methodist denominations in the United States with the United Methodist Church being the largest. United Methodists number about 8 million laypersons in the United States, along with another 3.5 million in Africa, Asia and Europe combined. The General Conference, a representative body of no more than 1000 clergy and lay persons, meet every four years to officially determine church policy and speak on social issues.
The United Methodist Church believes in the Holy Trinity of God, Jesus as the risen son of God and in the Holy Spirit as the divine presence in our lives. They recognize the Bible as their source of faith and the importance of taking Holy Communion.
The United Methodist Church appoints both men and women as pastors or as Deacons.
Another Methodist denomination, The Free Methodist Church, was formed in 1860 and has nearly 732,000 members worldwide in 82 nations. There are about 74,000 members in the United States.
The largest Methodist groups are the World Methodist Council, AME Church, AME Zion Church, Church of the Nazarene, CME Church, Free Methodist Church, Methodist Church of Great Britain, Uniting Church in Australia, United Methodist Church, and Wesleyan Church.