What is a "Sacrament?"
A sacrament is a religious ceremony or act of the Christian Church that is regarded as an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual divine grace.
The United Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: baptism and the Lord's Supper.
- Baptism marks the beginning of our lifelong journey as disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Through baptism, we are joined with the Triune God, the whole of Christ’s church, and our local congregation.
- The water and the work of the Holy Spirit in baptism convey God’s saving grace, the forgiveness of our sins, and new life in Jesus Christ.
- Persons of any age may be baptized—infants, children, youth, and adults.
- United Methodists baptize in a variety of ways—immersion, pouring, or sprinkling.
- A person receives the sacrament of baptism only once in his or her life.
For further study:
- By Water and Spirit, the church's official statement on baptism. (Download as PDF)
- Renewing waters: How United Methodists understand baptism
- This Is Your Baptismal Liturgy, a guide to the baptism ritual
- A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism
The Lord's Supper (Holy Communion, Eucharist)
- The Lord’s Supper is another name for the Eucharist, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving the church offers to God for all God has done, is doing, and will do to save us and renew all things in Christ.
- Through offering ourselves in praise and thanksgiving, and through receiving the bread and cup—which the Spirit makes for us the body and blood of Christ—celebrating the Lord’s Supper together nourishes and sustains us in our journey as disciples of Jesus Christ.
- As we pray together and receive the body and blood of Christ together, we are united with Christ, with one another, and in ministry to all the world.
- All who love Christ, earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another are invited to join us in offering our prayer of thanksgiving and receive the body and blood of Christ—regardless of age or church membership.
- Congregations serve the elements of the Lord’s Supper several ways, but always include both bread and cup.
- The Lord's Supper is to be celebrated and received regularly—John Wesley said, “as often as [one] can.”
For further study:
- This Holy Mystery, the church's official statement on communion.
- The Meaning of Holy Communion, a booklet based on the church’s official statement.
- An open table: How United Methodists understand communion
- We Are Nourished by Communion
These descriptions of the sacraments are introductory and by no means exhaustive. To learn more about baptism and communion, consult the resources listed in “For further study” under each.