Methodism has been closely associated in many people's minds
with total abstinence from alcohol.
So are all Methodists teetotalers?
No. The Church has always highlighted the dangers of alcohol
misuse and the damage it causes to personal well-being and social
relationships. The judgement of the Methodist Church, however, is
that total abstinence is a matter for individual choice. It is not
a condition of membership. Methodists are recommended to make a
personal commitment either to total abstinence or to responsible
What is the Methodist Church doing to limit the harm
caused by problem drinking?
The Methodist Church works with its ecumenical partners for
effective regulation, primarily through the Joint Public Issues
Team of the Methodist Church, Baptist Union of Great Britain,
United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland. Recent work has
focused on campaigning to limit the availability of dangerously
cheap, strong drink, through introducing a
minimum unit price for alcohol.
Is there an official statement?
The 1987 Methodist Conference Report on Alcohol, Through a Glass
Darkly, made the following recommendations -
That all Methodists:
- ·consider seriously the claims of total abstinence.
- ·make a personal commitment either to total abstinence or to
- ·give support wherever possible and by appropriate means to
those who suffer directly or indirectly from alcohol misuse
- ·unite to support pressure on government and public opinion for
a programme designed to control consumption and reduce harm
- ·recognise the importance of example and education in family
- ·where they practise total abstinence take special care to
avoid authoritarian attitudes which may be counter-productive
- ·where they practise responsible drinking take special care to
demonstrate that this also involves self-controls
- ·That the Methodist Church actively engages in the promotion of
responsible attitudes to alcohol and in the support (whether
directly or indirectly) of those suffering the harmful consequences
of their own alcohol misuse, or that of others.
The Methodist Church's Standing Orders state that alcohol cannot
be supplied, sold or used on Methodist premises, unless permission
has been given due to the premises being used as a conference
centre, nor may Methodist premises be used to promote the use or
sale of intoxicants. (This does not apply to domestic occasions in
private homes - alcohol can be consumed by ministers in their own
What about the Communion wine?
At Holy Communion in Methodist Churches non-alcoholic wine is
used. The only exception to this is where a non-Methodist
congregation worshipping on Methodist premises uses alcoholic
communion wine within its own rules, if this is allowed by the
local sharing agreement.
Does the Church help those with alcohol
The Methodist Church has a long tradition of direct contact with
and ministry to women and men who are alcohol dependent. Many
churches host meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and others run
social care projects to help people with alcohol addictions.
The Joint Public Issues Team's
to have an influence over local licensing decisions
Response to the Health Select Committee's Inquiry into the
Government's Alcohol Strategy
1999 Methodist Conference report: 'Methodist Attitudes to
Alcohol' - available on the Methodist Church website www.methodist.org.uk
For further information The first point of
contact for help is your local church.