The Sacraments

With many other Protestants, we recognize the two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.


 From the beginning, baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.Here you will find information on a United Methodist understanding of baptism and the steps for having a baby or child baptized at WUMC.

Why Baptize Babies? 

From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached “prevenient grace,” the grace that works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to prevenient grace. 

If you are interested in having your infant or child baptized at Williamsville United Methodist Church, please complete the Baptism Form, and then make an appointment to discuss this special service with one of our pastoral staff (716-634-4800).

You can learn more about the United Methodist understanding of baptism at Baptism: Overview. You can also read the Church's official statement on Baptism.

This Holy Mystery: A Study of Holy Communion in the United Methodist Church

The faith we experience at the Lord’s Supper is to be shared with all humanity. Many of God’s children have not “come home” to our Lord’s table. We are commissioned to invite them to join us there. Our outreach extends to all persons regardless of ethnicity, status, economic or political standing, or gender.

Through Holy Communion, the Holy Spirit works to shape our moral and ethical lives. The occasion of the Lord’s Supper is a time to remember and reach out to the poor and those suffering from injustice. The Lord’s Supper is a means to help each person and the whole church resist evil, injustice and oppression.

Holy Communion expresses our oneness in the body of Christ, anticipates Jesus’ invitation to feast at the heavenly banquet, and calls us to strive for the visible unity of the church. Some churches such as Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox will not share communion until all differences are reconciled. United Methodists see communion as a sign of our goal and hope, even if it is not yet realized, and invite all to the table.

For more information on United Methodists and Communion, visit the Questions and Answers page. You can also read the Church's official statement on Communion.

The Basic Pattern of Worship

The basic pattern of Christian worship has always included preaching the word and the Lord's Supper which complement one another. The practice of the Church from its earliest years was weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper on the Lord's Day along with teaching. Both are essential to Christian Discipleship!

John Wesley exhorted his followers to practice “constant communion” because Christ had commanded it and its benefits were so great. At a point in our history, the sacrament of Holy Communion was celebrated on an infrequent basis due to the lack of ordained ministers.

People started believing that having Holy Communion only once a quarter or one a month was the UMC tradition, whereas the founder, John Wesley communed almost daily. United Methodist Churches today are moving in a direction of more frequent celebration of Holy Communion, including on a weekly basis.

The Gathered Community:

The celebration of the Lord's Supper is done by all baptized Christians participating together. All share in the ministry of the Church. The prayer of consecration called “The Great Thanksgiving” involves everyone.

Presiding Leaders:

An ordained elder or a person authorized under the provisions of the Book of Discipline presides at all celebrations of Holy Communion. These persons administer the sacraments as authorized representatives of the church and of Jesus Christ. In particular, these persons must lead the Great Thanksgiving. Such ministry is under the supervision of the district superintendents and pastoral mentors for those not ordained.

Communion Elements:

  • The bread at Holy Communion needs to both look and taste like bread.
  • The bread may be leavened or unleavened.
  • The whole loaf best signifies our unity as the Body of Christ.  

Wine continues to be used in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and many Protestant denominations.  The United Methodist Church turned to the use of unfermented grape juice during the movement against the abuse of alcohol. We continue that position today.

A single cup (Chalice) maybe used for intinction or for drinking. Individual cups may be used, but this is being used less due to the fact that we need to emphasize our unity in Christ’s cup.

For those individuals with gluten sensitivity, gluten-free rice bread and a separate cup is provided to reduce contamination.

The consecrated elements are to be treated with reverent respect and appreciation as gifts of God’s creation that have become for us “the body and blood of Christ.” We do not worship them, but respect them. Any elements remaining are to be disposed of by either consuming them in a reverent manner at the pastor's direction following the service or returning them to the earth by pouring, burying, scattering or burning.

Hygiene and Table Setting

Preparation of the elements are done so as to minimize contamination. Studies have revealed that those who participate in Holy Communion have no higher incidence of illness than those who do not. Special care needs to be taken when persons with weakened immune systems participate.