We are a part of the Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Here’s a bit about what being United Methodist means:
The Methodist movement began in the 1700s when brothers John and Charles Wesley began a group known as the “Holy Club” while they were students at Oxford. The Holy Club met to study scripture and hold each other accountable as they worked to deepen their faith.
Both Church of England priests, John and Charles began preaching and writing hymns about how to build a deeply-felt faith that leads to works of mercy and justice in the world. The movement grew rapidly across Britain and the American colonies. When the United States won its war of independence, the first iteration of the Methodist Church split from the Church of England, and John sent Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke to be its first bishops.
How the UMC Works
The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 from a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church (a descendant of that first American Methodist Church).
Our church structure is connectional. We elect bishops to supervise the pastors in each Annual Conference and assign their appointments each year. Clergy are members of the Annual Conference, rather than members of their local church, and they are expected to work together as colleagues to support the work of the larger denomination as well as that of their individual churches.
The denomination maintains a number of General Agencies that support the worldwide work of United Methodists. Local churches give some of their proceeds each year (“apportionments”) to their Annual Conferences to support the Conference staff and the General Agencies. These funds allow the UMC to engage in mission (GBGM), anti-racism work (GCORR), education of clergy and laity (GBHEM), and much more.
Possibly the best known UM organization is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), a part of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). UMCOR is often first on the ground after natural disasters and during wars, and its work reaches people in more than 80 countries—including here in the United States. Our apportionments allow the UMC to fully fund the administrative costs of UMCOR, which means that 100% of all donations are free to go directly to the relief effort specified by the donor.
The UMC has a rich heritage of supporting many kinds of ministries and social support systems, including universities and hospitals. One highlight is the beautiful camp and retreat centers scattered throughout the connection. These centers host youth group retreats, summer camps, and much more, allowing United Methodists from all over space to treasure and enjoy God’s creation. To learn more about these ministries, check out:
Reconciling Ministries Network
Victor United Methodist Church has affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network, a para-church organization dedicated to advocating for inclusion of LGBTQ+ Christians in the life and ministry of the United Methodist Church. Among other things, this involves affirming RMN’s foundational statement:
We celebrate God’s gift of diversity and value the wholeness made possible in community equally shared and shepherded by all. We welcome and affirm people of every gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, who are also of every age, race, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, level of education, and family structure, and of every economic, immigration, marital, and social status, and so much more. We acknowledge that we live in a world of profound social, economic, and political inequities. As followers of Jesus, we commit ourselves to the pursuit of justice and pledge to stand in solidarity with all who are marginalized and oppressed.
You may see Reconciling Methodists at Annual and General Conferences wearing rainbow stoles to symbolize their affirmation of LGBTQ+ Christians. The rainbow stole unites the familiar symbolism of the gay pride flag with the scriptural symbolism of God’s first covenant with everyone and everything in creation (Gen 9:13–17).