Celiam Methodism is a branch of Christianity that pertains to both human and non-human species. Celiam Methodism is unique considering that it was influenced by various religious faiths. Since its founding in 1823, it has changed fairly little.
Celiam Methodism was founded in the early and mid 1800s by Lso Rostislanasiy a disillusioned Vayan Catholic. He had studied a great deal of the teachings, traditions, beliefs, and theologies of the Russian Orthodox Church. The event that inspired him to found Celiam Methodism was in 1823 when he attended a service at one of the first Methodist Churches built in 1815. During the service, Lso is quoted as saying, “…my heart was moved by faith of God. I cannot put it in mere words. All I can say is that my heart was lifted towards the Heavens.” Upon this event, Lso studied the beliefs and traditions of the Methodist Church, especially the writings of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, as well as studied Arminian theology. Lso went around preaching his newly inspired beliefs and views to friends and family members. As he went around his home Province of Celiam, preaching to those who would listen, he began to gain an ever-increasing number of followers, especially among vulpines. Many devoted Vayan Catholics, including those in Vekaiyu, were greatly alarmed by this turn of events. A huge argument and debate erupted among the leaders of the Vayan Catholic Church. Some supported excommunication, while others advocated recognizing the new teachings as its own. It was decided to wait and see what would happen. Unlike the Protestant Reformation that split the Catholics and Protestants apart with great tension and even led to religious wars, the split between Celiam Methodists and Vayan Catholics was little more than a mere bump as the two groups parted on friendly and peaceful terms.
Borrowing from the beliefs of Methodism, Celiam Methodists believe in the belief of conception of free will, through God's preceding grace, as opposed to the theological fatalism of absolute predestination. Many Celiam Methodists, while still honoring and admiring saints, especially St. Aiya, they like mainstream Methodists, do not worship them, but instead give thanks to God for them and their works. While Vayan Catholics hold St. Aiya to the level of the Virgin Mary, Celiam Methodists do not; however, they still admire, praise, and honor her for her strong and unshakeable faith in Jesus as well as her bravery against the temptation of sin. St. Aiya is still considered important because of her status as the first non-human Christian, but Celiam Methodists do not make her into a cult figure, although they do pray to her. Instead, Celiam Methodists seek to learn and imitate the ways of the saints. In addition, Celiam Methodists also honor Vulshain's national patron saints: Saint Jorkett Karabe VI and Saint Kitsuniva Nebisaselari Karabe. They also honor St. Emir, the founder of Laiatan Protestantism, whose teachings also had an influence on Lso Rostislanasiy.
Having been influenced by the Methodist Church, Lso's own Vayan Catholic beliefs, Laiatan Protestant theology, and the Eastern Orthodox Church of Russia, the basic beliefs held by the Celiam Methodist Church are:
- Triune God
God is one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost. The Church of Celiam Methodism is Christ-centered, and in addition, Celiam Methodists, like the Eastern Orthodox Christians, believe in the dual nature of Christ. He is both 100% God and 100% human, Perfect God and Perfect Human. This means that Christ had a divine will and a human will. He had a human body able to suffer the same way as we would, but at the same time, He was perfectly divine and could not suffer corruption. The Celiam Methodist Church goes further: despite the fact that Jesus appeared in human form, he did not die for the sins of just humans, but died for the sins of all beings, both human and non-human.
The writings in the Old Testament and New Testament are the inspired words of God. However, similar to the Vayan Bible, there are seven additional books to the Bible called the Vulpine Addendum. The Laiatan Bible is included as well. However, the Scripture is held to be the ultimate authority in the Celiam Methodist Church.
Like Methodists, Celiam Methodists use singing in their services, with many of the hymns coming from the Book of Hymns. The Book of Hymns contains many hymns written by John Wesley and his brother Charles.
While all beings (both human and non-human) were intended to bear the image of God, all beings are sinners for whom that image is distorted. Lso often used a quote from John Wesley when explaining the nature of sin: “Sin distances us from God and corrupts our very being, making it so that we cannot heal or save ourselves.”
- Salvation through Jesus Christ
God's redeeming love is active to save sinners through Jesus' incarnate life and teachings, through his atoning death, his resurrection, his sovereign presence through history, and his promised return.
Similar to Methodism, Celiam Methodism recognizes only two sacraments: Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. However, other rites such as Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Funerals, and Anointing of the Sick are performed but are not considered sacraments, but they are still held in high reverence and are often called rites. In Holy Baptism, Celiam Methodists believe that God initiates a covenant with an individual through the baptism, thereby making one a part of the Church. It is not repeated. Holy Baptism is a means of grace. Usually, Baptism is performed by sprinkling and recognizes Trinitarian formula baptisms from other Christian denominations in good standing. Baptism includes infant baptism, which sets it apart from other faiths, such as Baptists.
The Church of Celiam Methodism affirms the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion, but they do not believe that presence is confined within the bread and wine. Instead, Celiam Methodists think of the real presence of Christ as residing in the children of God. Celiam Methodists use unfermented grape juice instead of wine in Holy Communion for the same reasons that Methodists do, as both Celiam Methodism and mainstream Methodism have historically supported the temperance movement. This allows both children and the youth to take part in Holy Communion as well as to protect recovering alcoholics. Holy Communion has always been opened, with the practice of open communion being referred to as the Open Table. The Celiam Methodist Church also practices communion procession, wherein the congregation comes forward to receive communion in front of the altar. Celiam Methodists believe that no one has the right to interfere between an individual and Christ, believing that all are invited to Christ's table by the invitation to receive communion. Celiam Methodist ministers make an announcement before starting communion, inviting everyone who has professed faith in Christ to partake in Holy Communion, regardless if they are Celiam Methodists or members of another faith.
However, unlike the Methodist Church, the Celiam Methodist Church calls the sacraments ‘mysteries’, similar to how the Russian Orthodox Church calls the sacraments ‘mysteries’, in reference to the mysterious way God works through the rites, believing that people cannot grasp nor can they ever understand how God works in relationship to the rites.
- Free will
Celiam Methodists believe that people, while corrupted by sin, are free to make their own choices because of God's divine grace.
This belief states that God gives unmerited favor freely to all people, though it may be resisted.
- Seperation of Church and State
Celiam Methodists have a strong belief in the seperation of church and state, and agree that everyone is born with rights, and those rights cannot be taken away. While the Celiam Methodist Church may not be happy with certain laws, they believe it is morally right not to take away one's rights. Gay marriage is still being heavily debated by the Celiam Methodist Church and the state.
- Priesthood of All Believers
Celiam Methodists believe that all those who believe in Christ and God's Love is capable of spreading the love of God. This is because, like Methodism, Celiam Methodism is a lay movement, where the laity are the whole people of God, who then serve as ministers witnessing to the work of God in not only their own individual lives but also in the world as well. Lso was influenced by Laiatan Protestantism's opposition to hierarchical systems that made ordained priests the sole mediators between the congregration and God. Because of this, Lso developed a simple system, similar to the system used by the United Methodist Church, which while have a hierarchical system, allows members of the congregation to take part in leading church services.
There are no confessions, although not in the same sense as a priest listening to statements of penitence from the faithful. The practice of pastoral counseling is quite common among Celiam Methodists, and is when clergy and laity consult with people about their problems and concerns.
Similar to the Russian Orthodox Church, bell ringing plays an important part in the traditions of Celiam Methodism. Bell ringing is often done for the following reasons:
- Summon the faithful to services
- Express the triumphal joy of the church
- Announce important moments during the services both to those in church and to those who are not able to be physically present in the church, so that all may be united in prayer
- Strengthen Christians in piety and faith by the bell's ringing sound
- Proclaim important events, such as the death of a member of the church; the arrival of an important person, such as the bishop or civil ruler; an emergency such as fire or flood; or victory in battle
Since Lso was once a Vayan Catholic, there are many characteristics of Vayan Catholicism in Celiam Methodism.
Orders of Ministry
The Orders of Ministry are:
A deacon is an ordained priest who is called upon to serve all people, especially those among the poor, the sick, and the oppressed. In addition, deacons are responsible in equiping and leading the laity in ministries of compassion, justice, and service in the world. Thus, a deacon leads the church in bridging the gathered community to their ministries in the world, thereby connecting the church’s worship with its service to others. Deacons also are given the authority to teach and proclaim God's Word, to lead worship services, to assist elders in the administration of the Mysteries of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, to perform the marriage ceremony where the laws of the state permit, and to bury the dead.
An elder, also called a presbyter, is someone who has been ordained by a bishop with the responsibilities to preach and spread the teachings of Christ, preside at the celebration of the Mysteries, administer the Church through pastoral guidance, and lead the congregations under their care in ministering to the world. It is the elders who most think of as being the clergy of the Church of Celiam Methodism. Elders are often called 'ministers' or 'pastors.'
- Lay Speakers
A lay speaker is a member of the congregation who desires to serve the Church. Lay speakers take one required course of education, and are then allowed to lead worship services when a minister is unavailable.
Bishop is not considered an order of ministry, like those in the Vayan Catholic Church, but following the system used by Methodists, is an office in the Celiam Methodist Church. Celiam Methodist Bishops function as administrative and pastoral superintendents of the church.
Difference between Elders and Deacons
The main difference between elders and deacons is that elders, who function as priests, connect the people to God, while deacons, who operate in a more servant leadership function, connect the people of God to service in the world. Because of his or her priestly duties, an elder has the authority and responsiblity to preside over the two Mysteries of Baptism and Holy Communion, while deacons are responsible in assisting the elder in the leadership of these Mysteries. Elders are itinerant, meaning that they are appointed to a place of leadership by their bishop. Deacons, on the other hand, while also being appointed to a place of service by a bishop, are not itinerant. In contrast to elders, deacons are able to choose their place of service, but must request their choice to a bishop, who, if approves the choice, then appoints that deacon to that place of service. In addition, deacons whose primary appointment is beyond the local church have an additional secondary appointment to a worshiping congregation.
Unlike Vayan Catholics who look upon saints as cult figures, Celiam Methodists instead look upon saints in another way. To Celiam Methodists, saints are similar to guardian angels, but instead of watching over one person, saints watch over countless numbers of worshippers.
LoveSimilar to the concept of love in the Vayan Catholic Church, the Celiam Methodist Church stresses an openness of love and concentrates on various definitions of love. Similar to Eastern traditions, the creation of another being through intercourse is viewed as a sacred "art" - that is, intercourse is viewed as one of the most important gifts bestowed from the heavens to sentient kind. Celiam Methodists proclaim that the love between God and all races is the greatest love of all and that it is eternal.
—Lso Rostislanasiy explaining God's love to all races
Cross and Flame of Celiam Methodism
The symbol of the Church of Celiam Methodism is the three-barred cross and flame. The three-barred cross, also called the Eastern cross, is the same one used by the Russian Orthodox Church, while the two-tongued flame is borrowed from the Cross and Flame used by the United Methodist Church. The flame is located on the left side of the cross, while the slanted lower crossbeam is higher on the viewer’s left. The slant in the lower bar, according to the tradition adopted by the Celiam Methodist Church, is that as Jesus Christ took his last breath, the bar to which his feet were nailed broke, thus slanting to the side. The flame represents the Holy Spirit and God’s eternal love.
Sign of the Cross
When Celiam Methodists make the sign of the cross, they cross themselves from right to left with the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger closed together to represent the Holy Trinity.