The founder of Methodism was John Wesley, an Anglican clergyman, who in the 18th century began evangelistic work, which led to the foundation of Methodist societies throughout Britain and Ireland. The Methodist Church in Ireland is organised on an all island basis and has a close relationship with the Methodist Church in Britain. There are estimated to be 70 million Methodists worldwide. The Legislative authority for Irish Methodists on all matters of doctrine, discipline and worship is the Conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland. In essence, Methodists are part of the church universal through profession of the Apostles creed.
There is a commitment to follow the teaching of scripture, an acceptance that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. A traditional summary of Methodist teaching is :-
“All need to be saved,
All may be saved,
All may know themselves saved,
All may be saved to the uttermost”
Methodists have always been clear that no one is beyond the reach of God’s love. Salvation is there for everyone who turns to God, and not just for a chosen few. People come to faith in many ways.
Methodists acknowledge that within the Church there is a diversity of gifts or functions, but all are included in the ‘priesthood of all believers’ – there has always been an acceptance of a full role for men and women in the church.
The Methodist Church observes the two sacraments enjoyed by Christ himself, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Methodists place a special emphasis on witness to the ‘whole’ person – body, mind and soul. In this context, there is especially a strong tradition of caring for the weaker members of society. This concern for all continues to influence Methodist belief and attitude to social problems.
To help address the problems and complex issues facing modern society, the Methodist Church in Ireland is committed to co-operate with other Christian churches. It shares in the process of dialogue through the ecumenical movement across a range of social and spiritual matters.