United Methodist Church, in the United States, religious body formed by the union in 1968 of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church (see Methodism). Emphasizing ecumenism, the newly united church, the second largest Protestant church in the United States, proposed further amalgamation with other Protestant groups. The church also attempted to broaden its social involvement, concentrating its efforts not only on spiritual, but on also material, aspects of the individual's well-being. In 1988, the General Conference broadened the basis of doctrine to include "the resources of tradition, experience, and reason." In 1996 it eliminated preparatory membership and granted full membership to those who had been baptized. Members confirming their faith at a later age are now professing members. The church has an inclusive membership of about 8.5 million (1997).