Ask the UMC: Do United Methodists believe in saints?

An angel in the Recoleta Cemetery (Spanish, Cementerio de la Recoleta) located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The cemetery is located at the church of Our Lady of Pilar (Nuestra Señora del Pilar Basilica) which was built in 1732. Photo by Godot13, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
An angel in the Recoleta Cemetery (Spanish, Cementerio de la Recoleta) located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The cemetery is located at the church of Our Lady of Pilar (Nuestra Señora del Pilar Basilica) which was built in 1732. Photo by Godot13, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

United Methodists believe in saints, but not in the same manner as the Catholic Church.

We recognize Matthew, Paul, John, Luke and other early followers of Jesus as saints, and countless numbers of United Methodist churches are named after these saints.

We also recognize and celebrate All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) and "all the saints who from their labors rest."  All Saints' Day is a time to remember Christians of every time and place, honoring those who lived faithfully and shared their faith with us.  On All Saints' Day, many churches read the names of their members who died in the past year.

However, our denomination does not have any system whereby people are elected to sainthood. We do not pray to saints, nor do we believe they serve as mediators to God.  United Methodist believe "... there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human who gave himself a ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:5-6a). 

United Methodists call people "saints" because they exemplified the Christian life. In this sense, every Christian can be considered a saint.

John Wesley believed we have much to learn from the saints, but he did not encourage anyone to worship them. He expressed concern about the Church of England's focus on saints' days and said that "most of the holy days were at present answering no valuable end."

Wesley's focus was entirely on the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Have questions? Ask the UMC. And check out other recent Q&As.

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