Fairmount and the Wesleyan Tradition
John Wesley, the 18th Century Anglican priest who gave leadership to what was to become The Methodist Movement, shared the theological commitment to justification by faith as proclaimed by Martin Luther and John Calvin. Wesley, however, saw justification (being put right with God and the forgiveness of sins) as only the beginning of the Christian life, and put great emphasis on sanctification as the ongoing work of God’s Spirit in Christians to lead them to holy living. Fairmount Avenue United Methodist Church understands itself in this tradition. We believe we are put right with God through personal faith in Jesus Christ, God’s son. And we believe that God calls us to live lives of holiness; lives that are characterized by a deep love for God and love for our neighbors. Wesley taught that God’s grace was always at work in the world and in us even before we come to faith. But the means by which this grace is experienced in the Christian life are the study of Scripture, prayer, fasting, The Lord’s Supper, Christian conference (joining with others for fellowship and ministry), and public worship.
Wesley organized people into smaller groups where people could encourage one another and hold one another accountable for their progress in the Christian life. This concept is carried out at FAUMC in Covenant Discipleship groups where 4-7 people meet one hour weekly to share a common commitment to do acts of compassion, justice, devotion, worship and to be open to the promptings of God’s Spirit. Currently we have 8 Covenant Discipleship groups at FAUMC, and we are encouraging the formation of more.
Wesley also expected people in the Methodist movement to attend Sunday Worship and to practice the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. At FAUMC we observe these important rituals regularly. Wesley insisted that everyone be welcomed to the communion table, a tradition that we at FAUMC gladly embrace.
Finally, Wesley, along with his deep theological convictions, also had a gracious ecumenical spirit. He was willing to work together with other Christians, especially in acts of justice and compassion on behalf of the poor. Again we at FAUMC value this tradition and seek to work together with brothers and sisters from other churches. We are grateful for our special relationship with the St. Alban’s Church of God in Christ, a predominantly African American Pentecostal church.