We're sure you have a lot of questions about membership. We encourage you to talk with members about their experiences as we gather for fellowship and coffee after our Sunday worship service. And, please don't hesitate to call Pastor Mary Jo for a chat or to schedule a meeting to learn more about us and the our simple and meaningful membership process. We offer here the brief answers to some of the questions freqently asked by our newscomers. We hope these are helpful – for now.
What does "joining" the church mean?
In our tradition, joining the church matters. New members simply stand up in church during Sunday worship and make promises about their commitment to God and to this faith community. We ask people to join as part of worship rather than just "signing up," because it's not just about you making promises; the church members make promises to you as well. It would n't make any sense to make joining a community a private matter, would it? We believe without a doubt that God is present, and particularly so during Sunday morning worship. We have membes join the church publicly and during worship because this a prayerful and meaningful act – not just for you but for all of us.
When you join our church, you become a voting memberof the church. Members vote on the church's annual budget, they vote on which of the members should serve as key leadrs, and they even vote on whether or not to call a new pastor. There are important practical issues associated with becoming a member of our church.
What about my "old church, or the church I grew up in?
When new members join the church, we often give thanks for every place that has ever been your spiritual home. When you join a church, you do so at one moment in time, and that does not take the place of any other church. When you join our church, you are not saying that this church trumps all others. But you are saying that while you are here, you will be an active member of this congregation.
Why would I need to join the church? Isn't it fine to simply come to worship?
Of course you can come to worship. Worship is open to everybody at any time, and you can worship in all sorts of places, not just this church. Joining the church is different from worshipping God. You can praise God on a mountaintop or while the plane lands after a bumpy flight. You can gather a group of people in church or on a lakeshore to worship. But when you join a local church, you are saying that you have chosen this particular community of faith to be your spiritual home at this time. When you join, you tell the community, "I'm in," and they in turn make promises to support you on your faith journey together. One of the things they will promise is to join you in the amazing adventure of prayer. You will now be part of something larger than yourself and your own private journey.
What will I be asked to say when I join?
Here's a sample from the UCC Book of Worship that our church uses. You will notice that these five questions are answered with one simple response, "I do."
- Do you desire to affirm your baptism into the faith and family of Jesus Christ?
- Do you renounce the powers of evil and desire the freedom of new life in Christ?
- Do you profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
- Do you promise, by the grace of God, to be Christ's disciple, to follow in the way of our Savior, to resist oppression and evil, to show love and justice, and to witness the work and word of Jesus Christ as best you are able?
- Do you promise, accordinto the the grace given you, to grow in the Christiam faith and be a faithful member of the church of Jesus Christ, celebrating Christ's presence and furthering Christ's mission in all the world?