Did You Know...

← Return to Blog Home

Cross and Flame

Did you know…

…that the universal symbol of the United Methodist Church is the “Cross and Flame”?


A member of our congregation recently told me that a person once asked them, “Why does the UMC us a burning cross as its symbol?” This story is a stark reminder that symbols can often be misinterpreted and that symbols, which are familiar to us, can be meaningless to others. So below is our symbol, which is referred to as the “Cross and Flame” not the burning cross. I have also included the history and significance of the Cross and Flame so that you might be prepared to answer other people’s inquiries.

The history and significance of the Cross and Flame emblem are as rich and diverse as The United Methodist Church. The insignia's birth quickly followed the union of two denominations in 1968: The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Following more than two dozen conceptualizations, a traditional symbol—the cross—was linked with a single flame with dual tongues of fire. The resulting insignia is rich in meaning. It relates The United Methodist church to God through Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame). The flame is a reminder of Pentecost when witnesses were unified by the power of the Holy Spirit and saw "tongues, as of fire" (Acts 2:3).

The elements of the emblem also remind us of a transforming moment in the life of Methodism's founder, John Wesley, when he sensed God's presence and felt his heart "strangely warmed." The two tongues of a single flame may also be understood to represent the union of two denominations.

The insignia, one with lettering and one without, was formally adopted by the General Conference in 1968 and registered in 1971 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Since 1996, the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist church has supervised the emblem's use.

(Information above taken from UMC website: www.umc.org)


Now that you know a little more about our emblem consider this: How does your life and the life of our church honor this emblem? In other words, are we living lives that represent both Christ and the Holy Spirit? Does our emblem symbolize us or is it just a picture we use on stationary?

Posted by Amanda McMurtrey with