Who We Are?
(why we are here)
We share with all God’s people a common purpose
to be close with God by our worship
through love and service to our Lord and neighbors.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind,
and with all your strength . . .
You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 12:30-31).
(what we are doing)
Our mission is to nurture disciples of Christ and proclaim
His Good News for the faith life of Stonington and the world.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
(results of our mission)
The People of Stonington United Methodist Church envision Stonington and the world as a community in which we respect all creation, experience quality of life, and worship God fully!
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future’.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
For over 150 years, we have been a family of “open hearts, open minds, open doors, and open arms.” Loving each other, loving ourselves, loving creation, and loving God all work together for the Christian journey of healing and growth.
We are a Christ-centered and biblically-rooted community of faith, known for our integrity and vibrancy. We are proud of our heritage which grounds us and guides us as United Methodist Christians in Stonington. What we have been gifted from God is something we want to share with those around us!
We see ourselves most clearly through Jesus’ stories of the kingdom of God, where hidden potential is revealed in the most unlikely of places and people:
- we see the worth of the one overlooked (Luke 10:25-37);
- we are the leaven that raises faith in people (Matthew 13:33);
- we reveal the treasures of Stonington (Matthew 13:44);
- we search out the great value of our world (Matthew 13:45);
- we are the net that catches believers of every kind (Matthew 13:47).
Our congregation started as a gathering of seven people organized by Rev. H.W. Ferguson in 1867. For six years, meetings were held in the Washington schoolhouse which stood at that time one half mile south of Stonington. In 1873, this little group built the first church building in Stonington. This building is now the Masonic Lodge on the corner of Third and Maple. The current building was erected in 1895 and was dedicated on September 8th of that year. It has been said that the pews were hauled from Springfield, IL by horse-and-wagon when the mud was up to the axle. That same month, the congregation incorporated themselves as the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Stonington, Illinois, becoming the Stonington United Methodist Church in 1969 following the denominational merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and The Methodist Church a year earlier.
The church has made its presence felt in the community over the years. In 1988, our church became involved in the Blue Mound Food Pantry which serves a wide area today; we continue to support it both financially and with volunteers. During our annual Summerfest, our church is known for its “pie booth” offering delicious pies, ice cream, and fellowship. We have also had a float in the Summerfest parade for many years. For 150+ years, our congregation has striven to be faithful to God’s will to make a difference in the community around us. The pitfalls, the struggles, and joys of living out the Gospel has made our church one of integrity and belonging. When we gather together to worship God, to fellowship, study, and do kingdom-work, our longing at SUMC is always to live out the dying words of our Methodist founder, Rev. John Wesley: “The best of all, God is with us!”
What We Believe
Methodism recognizes itself as standing firmly within the Christian tradition from the time of the apostles. Specifically, we trace our roots through the Church of England where weekday societies geared for the spiritual renewal were formed under The Rev. John Wesley (1703-1791). Through his leadership and teachings, these gatherings grew beyond imagination, sparking a revival throughout the British Isles and even into America. This was a revival that transformed the Church and society through a vital religious of heart (inward) and life (outward). Wesley’s “three simple rules” guided His Methodists for centuries:
- Do good.
- Do no harm.
- Stay in love with God.
He believed a living faith comes from real, personal experiences of God. He valued Scripture (ancient cultures experiencing God), Tradition (the Church’s shared experience with God), Reason (the wisdom of God that comes collectively from humans), and Experience (our own personal encounters with the Living Christ). Wesley believed in a balanced religious: where the head and heart unite, the personal and public are joined, and inward spirituality meets outward discipleship. The Methodist is one who loves God and neighbor by inward acts of piety AND outward acts of mercy and justice in the world. The United Methodist Church continues to be active in the world today, involving itself in systematic changes in politics and legislative processes. We take stands on controversial social issues, recognizing God loves every person and everyone is worth fighting for. All people deserve a quality of life and dignity! All people are of self-worth! We also emphasize the grace of God at work in our lives long before we ever recognize it! Everything we do is a response to the goodness already in our lives from God!
The UMC’s mission is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
For more information about what United Methodists believe, visit our denomination’s website: umc.org.