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 drinking.
- 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 responsible drinking
- ·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 life
- ·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 homes)
- 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 problems?
The Methodist Church has a long tradition of direct contact with and ministry to people who are alcohol dependent. Many churches host meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and others run social care projects to help people with alcohol addictions.