Q: What Does Being a Reconciling Congregation Mean?
A: The United Methodist Church is open to all persons who seek to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In acknowledging our oneness with all of God’s creation, a reconciling congregation invites gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons to share our faith, our community life, our ministries, and leadership positions. But our welcome does not stop there. A reconciling congregation affirms the same for all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, marital status, age, economic status, or physical or mental condition. We at Central seek to be an inclusive congregation. We proclaim our commitment to seek reconciliation of all persons, to God and to each other through Jesus Christ. We work diligently to make the larger United Methodist Church inclusive and welcoming of all people
Q: What is A United Methodist Church?
A: The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 when the Evangelical United Brethren Church united with the Methodist Church. Prior to that several other groups merged in 1939 to form the Methodist Church. United Methodists trace our roots to John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement in England. The movement first became an official church in 1784 in what is now the United States. Hallmarks of Methodism include an emphasis on God’s grace and the interconnection of spiritual practices (prayer, communion, fasting, holy communion) and social justice (feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, caring for the vulnerable). Today, the United Methodist Church is a worldwide denomination with about 10 million members in almost every country of the world. Every United Methodist Church is connected through a system of districts and conferences that support shared community, statewide, national, and global ministries. Churches vary greatly in worship style and theological perspectives.
Q: Are All the United Methodist Churches the Same?
A: No. While all United Methodist churches are connected to each other through shared denominational ministries, churches are as varied as people. Historically, Methodism has been a “big tent” tradition with room for many. Central has a strong tradition of justice-seeking ministries for the marginalized, including people experiencing homelessness, actively working to counter racism, heterosexism, and sexism in both church and society.
Q: What Does It Mean to Be a Member of Central?
A: There’s one thing that Christians worldwide can agree upon: if you have been baptized, you’re already a member of the church. Being part of a particular United Methodist congregation means placing your name officially on its rolls. Our membership affects our voice within the larger denomination. Being a member also allows a person to fully participate in and vote in church conferences.
Q: What Are the Demographics of of Central?
A: Our membership comprises individuals of many income groups, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and political persuasions. In addition to members, we have many active constituents who participate fully in the life of our congregation.
Q: If I Am Unable to Attend Service, Can I View It Online?
A: Yes, you are able to view parts of our worship service online via our YouTube station and our Facebook page.
Q: What Do People Wear to Church?
A: Some people wear suits and “traditional church clothes” while others dress quite casually. Everyone is welcome!
Q: Are Children Welcome at Services?
A: Absolutely! The presence of children makes us a more faithful and vibrant congregation. We even have two rocking chairs for parents to use during a service.
Q: Can Anyone Receive Communion?
A: At Central our Communion Table is open to all. We celebrate Holy Communion as a regular part of our worship service on the first Sunday of every month. Our pastor celebrates communion on-line via ZOOM each Sunday evening from 7:30-7:45.
Q: Is Your Church Involved in Outreach to the Community and the World?
A: Yes! Every United Methodist Church participates in national and global ministries through the shared programs of our denomination. Notable programs include the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which provides immediate assistance to communities during a time of natural disaster; a strong system of colleges and Universities that were founded by Methodists and where United Methodist students can apply for denominational scholarships and other support; advocacy for those who are disenfranchised. Locally, Central has a strong history of supporting programs at Cleveland Elementary, our neighborhood elementary school; volunteering at St. Mary’s Dining Room; supporting the Stockton Emergency Food Bank; and maintaining an emergency food pantry at our church.
Q: Can anyone participate in church activities, or only members?
A: Almost all activities are open to non-members of Central, with the exception of a very few offices and voting at official Church Conferences. We welcome you to participate actively in our community.
Q: How often does the church offer communion?
A: Normally we celebrate communion on the first Sunday of each month, as well as during special services like Maundy Thursday. During COVID-19, our communion has been virtual. Starting in September, we will offer a brief weekly communion service for those who prefer to commune weekly; once we are able to worship in Central Park, we will suspend communion on Sundays in favor of on-line communion. Everyone is welcome to participate in communion: the table is the Lord’s!
Q: How can I learn more about Central’s ministries?
A: Three or four times a year, our pastor leads an Orientation to Central course, usually in three sessions, to help people learn more about United Methodism and Central specifically. To receive an invitation to the next Orientation or to ask specific questions about how to join the church, contact our pastors: Khmer speakers, contact Pastor Viseth Hou. English speakers, contact Jan Everhart Hartliff (see staff page for e-mails and phone numbers). Our website also includes a lot of information about age-level and specific programs, so feel free to explore here!