Brooks Chapel affirms the doctrinal standards and theological task of The United Methodist Church found in our denomination's Book of Discipline:
"United Methodists profess the historic Christian faith in God, incarnate in Jesus Christ for our salvation and ever at work in human history in the Holy Spirit. Living in a covenant of grace under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we participate in the first fruits of God's coming reign and pray in hope for its full realization on earth as in heaven." -¶101
Basic Christian Affirmations
"We hold in common with all Christians a faith in the mystery of salvation in and through Jesus Christ. We share the Christian belief that God's redemptive love is realized in human life by the activity of the Holy Spirit, both in personal experience and in the community of believers. We understand ourselves to be part of Christ's universal Church when by adoration, proclamation, and service we become conformed to Christ. With other Christians we recognize that the reign of God is both a present and future reality. We share with many Christian communions a recognition of the authority of Scripture in matters of faith, the confession that our justification as sinners is by grace through faith, and the sober realization that the Church is in need of continual reformation and renewal." -¶101
Distinctive Wesleyan Emphases
Prevenient Grace: We believe the divine love surrounds all humanity and precedes any and all of our conscious impulses, making us aware of our need for God and drawing us to God; Justification and Assurance: We believe God accepts and pardons human beings and, through our faith, forgives our sin; Sanctification and Perfection: We believe that God continues to nurture our growth in grace by the Spirit, that we increase in knowledge and love of God and love for neighbor; Faith and Good Works: We believe that God's grace calls forth human response and discipline, and that salvation evidences itself in good works; Mission and Service: We believe that personal salvation always involves Christian mission and service to the world, and that love of God is always linked with love of neighbor; Nurture and Mission of the Church: We believe in the nurturing and serving function of Christian fellowship in the Church, as religion and holiness are social in nature. -¶101
Doctrine and Discipline in the Christian Life
"Evangelical faith should manifest itself in evangelical living." Therefore, we understand that we're to do no harm, to do good of every possible sort, and to attend upon all the ordinances of God. -¶101
We further believe in one God, manifest in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); in the bodily resurrection of Christ; in the natural tendency of humanity toward sin; in the free will of every human being; and in the one offering of Christ on the cross as the perfect redemption and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.
The Sacraments (taken largely from Cokesbury pamphlets)
The word sacrament comes from a Latin word for "vow" or "promise" and a Greek word for "mystery." Sacraments are ritual practices that connect us to the mystery of God's love and grace and call us to respond in faith. While there are many ways of opening to the love and grace of God, United Methodists recognize two rituals as sacraments: baptism and Holy Communion. These are the only two practices Jesus specifically commands in the gospels (Matthew 28.19-20; Luke 22.14-21). Baptism is our welcome to the family of Christ; Holy Communion sustains and nourishes us on our journey of faith.
In baptism, we acknowledge and celebrate the grace of God, freely offered to us before we were even aware of it. We confess our sin, accept membership in the family of Christ, and vow to trust in and serve Jesus Christ as our Lord. Baptism is the outward and visible sign of our covenant (i.e., holy agreement) with God to accept God's gifts of freedom and power to grow in faith through the constant efforts of the Holy Spirit and the lifelong practice of prayer, study, service, witness, and worship. In the UMC, baptism is a communal celebration; the congregation vows to nurture and support those being baptized--adults or infants.
Water cleanses and purifies. It's necessary for all life. The use of water reminds us to be grateful for all that God has already done for us, as well as of our need to to be washed and renewed--purified by God's love and by the ongoing work and power of the Holy Spirit. Sprinkling, pouring, and immersion are all acceptable uses of water for baptism in the UMC.
In the UMC, as in many other Christian traditions, baptism may occur at any age. The practice of infant baptism is supported by biblical authority (Acts 2.38-39 and 16.15, 33). We enter this world as imperfect beings in need of salvation. When infants are presented for baptism, parents, sponsors, and the entire community of faith pledge to surround the children with Christian nurture and teaching as the children prepare to profess and confirm their faith for themselves (often as young teens in a service called confirmation). Young people and adults who have never been baptized and who wish to join the family of faith and the UMC may profess their faith, receive instruction in the beliefs and traditions of the UMC, and be baptized into membership.
The term christening has sometimes been understood as a ritual for naming a child, but it's the same service as baptism. While the child's name is spoken in the Baptismal Covenant service, the focus is on the work and power of God's love. A service of dedication is the action a family takes on behalf of a child; baptism is a celebration and acknowledgement of the loving action God has already taken and continues to take on behalf of all creation.
Baptism is recognition of God's gracious love already at work in our lives. God's grace endures, and God's promises are never broken. As such, the normative practice of the denomination is not to re-baptize. As well, the UMC recognizes the baptism of most other Christian traditions. Periodically, we offer opportunities to reaffirm our baptismal vows as a means of renewing our commitment to love and service.
Holy Communion is the meal of bread and drink shared by the family of Christ that opens us to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and reminds us of Christ's sacrifice in giving up his body and shedding his blood to show us the way to freedom and eternal life. It nourishes and sustains us as we seek to live as faithful followers of Christ. It's a celebration of our life together as the living body of Christ in and for the world.
According to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, on the night before Jesus was arrested and later killed, he gathered with his followers and began this sacred tradition by sharing with them bread and wine--everyday foods of that time. he told them (and us) that whenever they eat bread, they should remember that his body was broken for them; whenever they drink wine, they should remember his blood poured out as a sign of the new covenant between God and humanity--a covenant of forgiveness of sins and new life in becoming like Christ through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.
Each of the names for this meal--Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist--comes from the New Testament, and highlights different meanings of the sacrament. Calling it the Lord's Supper reminds us that Jesus began this sacred meal and is our host at the table whenever we share it. Calling it Holy Communion reminds us that it's an act of intimate sharing, making us one with Christ and with each other. Calling it the Eucharist, a term taken from the New Testament Greek word for "thanksgiving," reminds us that giving thanks to God for all God has done is an essential part of the meal. Using different names acknowledges that no single term can contain the wealth of meanings in this sacred act.
United Methodists believe that the Communion elements--the bread and cup--bring about powerful, spiritual change. We don't believe they become the actually body and blood of Christ, but that they're symbols of his body and blood that help us be his body in the world.
The practice of using grape juice instead of wine began in the 19th century, when Methodists were active in the temperance movement. It continues out of concern for recovering alcoholics, to allow the participation of children and youth, and to support the denomination's stand on abstinence. During the service, you may hear this element referred to as the cup, wine, or juice.
Holy Communion is the Lord's Supper, not ours. As such, we practice an open table--which means that all are invited; we don't refuse anyone who desires to receive. This includes the non-baptized, although they're encouraged to seek spiritual teaching. We believe that whether or not one should receive this sacrament is between the individual and God. Two thousand years ago, Jesus ate with sinners and those on the margins of society. He still does. None of us is worthy, except by God's grace. Thus any who want Christ in their life are welcome at his table.
The above quotations from The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church - 2008. Copyright ©2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.
Worship is central to Brooks Chapel UMC. Our worship style during our morning service, for which our attendance averages just over 50, tends toward the traditional; still, the setting is quite relaxed. The Eucharist (Holy Communion) is celebrated the first Sunday of each month.* Attendance is typically much smaller for our evening services which are held every first and third Sunday, and the lesson is more dialogical in nature.
At any of our services, however, one can expect: a warm greeting, a close-knit atmosphere, uplifting music, heartfelt prayers, and Christ-centered preaching. You're welcome to join us anytime!
Service times: Sunday AM - 11:00; Sunday PM (1st & 3rd Sundays) - 6:00. To see our worship bulletin, click here.
Brooks Chapel offers several age-specific Sunday school classes as a basic unit of Christian formation. These classes (which begin at 10 AM weekly) are steeped in study of scripture and a weekly lesson; our average Sunday school attendance is 30.
We also meet for Bible study every Wednesday at 6 PM; the adults share a lesson, and the children and youth have their own time of study and activities.
Occasional classes are also offered, and in the past have covered topics such as world religions, Christian denominations, and the particulars of Methodism. We take seriously the call to study and grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
Since we understand that it's imperative for a strong sense of community to exist in the church, we come together in fellowship often. We have groups that meet regularly--such as young people's groups, United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men--but we also have church-wide gatherings that offer opportunities to have fun and strengthen the bonds of Christian love.
We typically have cookouts and games on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. The UMW frequently sponsors special events, like basket auctions and banquets. We also have celebrations to mark milestones in our community, such as graduations, weddings, or births.
There really is something for everyone, so we hope you'll feel at home in this family of faith.
Scripture attests that "faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (James 2.17). In various places, God's Word calls us to action: to go, and do as Jesus did. And knowing that Jesus saw his ministry as one which brought good news to the poor, proclaimed release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free, and proclaimed the Lord's favor--we believe we're to be about the same.
To involve ourselves in this work, we participate in, partner with, and/or support various ministries and charitable organizations, such as: Life House, Need Line, Reelfoot Rural Ministries, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, the Lion's Club Telethon, Project 20/20, the Lenten World Hunger fund, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and the Gideons International. We've been blessed to regularly participate in a community kitchen hosted by Murray First UMC, to prepare meals for the Murray State Wesley Foundation, and to visit local nursing/assisted living facilities with song services and devotionals. Our children and youth also get involved, raising money at Christmastime to purchase toys for less-privileged young people and taking part in the aforementioned community kitchen.
We're also attentive to individual needs in our community as they arise, and strive to respond with grace and generosity. We thank God for what we've been blessed with, and look for ways to be a blessing to others.
*The sacrament will gladly be brought to persons who are shut-in, homebound, hospitalized, or in nursing/assisted living facilities.