St. Stephen United Methodist Church envisions to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus Christ... in our neighborhood, in Charlotte, and in the world.
Our Methodist Tradition
United Methodist preaching and teaching are grounded in Scripture, informed by Christian tradition, enlivened by personal experience, and tested by reason.
The Old and New Testaments are the unique and authoritative standards for Christian doctrine. Biblical authors testify to God’s self-disclosure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as in God’s work of creation and the Holy Spirit’s ongoing activity in human history.
Our attempt to understand God does not start anew with each generation or each person. Our faith celebrates the ideas of Christian thinkers and preachers through the centuries. We learn from traditions found in many cultures, but Scripture remains the standard by which all traditions are judged.
We examine experience, both personal and church-wide, to confirm the realities of God’s grace found in Scripture. Experience authenticates in our own lives the truths revealed in Scripture and illumined in tradition.
Although we recognize that God’s revelation and our experiences of God’s grace continually surpass the scope of reason, we also believe that disciplined theological work calls for the careful use of reason.
A Triune God
We believe in a triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in God’s self-revelation as three distinct but inseparable parts.
We believe in one true, holy, and living God who is creator, sovereign, and preserver of all things visible and invisible. God is infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness, and love. God rules with gracious regard for the well-being and salvation of all people.
We believe that we best know and understand God in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the source and measure of all valid Christian teaching. We believe in the mystery of salvation in and through the redeeming love of God found in the teachings of Jesus, his death and resurrection, and promised return.
The Holy Spirit
We believe that God’s love is realized by the activity of the Holy Spirit, both in our personal lives and in the church. The Holy Spirit is a constant presence in our lives, by which we find strength and help in time of need. The Spirit comforts, sustains, and empowers us.
Grace is a primary emphasis within the United Methodist Church. Through grace, God summons us to repentance, pardons us, claims us as new people in Christ, and gives us hope of life eternal.
In spite of suffering, violence, and evil, we assert that God’s grace is present everywhere. Despite our brokenness, we remain people created by a just and merciful God.
Grace is the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action of God in human existence. While the grace of God is undivided, grace comes in three forms: Prevenient Grace affirms God’s presence in our lives, convicts people of their sin, and enables people to respond to God’s call; Justifying Grace makes persons daughters and sons of the Almighty; Sanctifying Grace leads people to a life in perfect harmony with God.
Justification and New Birth
In justification, we are through faith forgiven our sins and restored to God’s favor. This process of justification and new birth is often called conversion or salvation. Such a conversion may be sudden and dramatic, or gradual and cumulative. This change in a person’s life marks a new beginning, yet it is also part of an ongoing process. Baptism is the sign of this new birth.
Sanctification and Perfection
The wonder of God’s acceptance and pardon does not end God’s saving work, but grace continues to nurture our growth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to increase in the knowledge and love of God and in love for our neighbor.
Faith and Good Works
God’s grace and human activity work together in faith and good works. While faith is the only response essential for salvation, salvation shows itself in good works. Personal salvation always involves service to the world.
Our Faith in Action
Service to the World
We believe that Jesus calls us to put our love into action. The United Methodist Church reaches out to establish peace and justice in the world through many ministries. For example, we support dozens of local missions such as Crisis Assistance Ministry, The Salvation Army, partnerships with local schools, Room In The Inn ministry, Uptown Men’s Shelter ministry, and more, as well as missionaries around the world.
We worship God by reading the Bible, preaching, singing and listening to both traditional and contemporary Christian music, and celebrating Holy Communion regularly. Our church observes the seasons of the Christian year, along with occasional services of healing, special song services, and covenant reaffirmations. Laity of all ages help lead worship.
The Sacraments & The Universal Church
We recognize two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. Both are initiated by Jesus Christ as symbols and pledges of God’s love for us.
Initiation into the Body of Christ is acknowledged in baptism and may include persons of all ages. Baptism is followed by nurture and in the growing awareness of the baptized of Christ’s claim upon their lives. Persons baptized as infants and children accept baptismal promises in Confirmation. We baptize persons by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.
We believe the Lord’s Supper is a memorial of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ and a symbol of the union Christians have with Christ and with one another. All persons — saints and sinners, children and adults, members and guests — are welcomed at our Savior’s table.
The Universal Church
With other Christians, we declare the essential oneness of the church in Christ Jesus. We affirm our unity with other Christian communities as we confess one holy, universal, and apostolic church. As a sign of our unity, we welcome persons baptized in and members of other Christian communions.
The Hands, Feet, and Heart of Jesus Christ
St. Stephen is a community of believers with an active faith. We believe in service and servant leadership. We value lifelong learning and faith development. Grow in your faith journey with us.