Becoming a Member
If you are considering membership at First Church, you may have questions about what membership means and what the process of joining is like. We hope that the information provided below supplements the more personal process of getting to know one another.
How will I know if joining First Church is right for me?
People join First Church for many reasons: They feel comfortable in our church, and want to contribute towards the life of this community. They feel a kinship with how the liberal, non-creedal tradition of Unitarian-Universalism is expressed through our liturgy, our social activism, our adult and children’s religious education, and our community life. They find that they want to pursue their spiritual path within the support that First Church provides. For these reasons and more, they have an interest in making a commitment to First Church by becoming a member.
What are the benefits of joining First Church?
Some of the benefits are intangible. For instance, you may experience a deeper sense of connection to others, on both spiritual and social levels, by committing to a faith community. More concretely, members of First Church can vote at our congregational meetings, and thus can have a direct influence on important institutional (e.g., budgetary) decisions. While everyone is invited to these meetings, only members have voting privileges.
Does one have to be a member to participate in the life of the church?
You can participate in many ways without being a member. As some examples, volunteer at church events, give one of the readings at Sunday services, usher on Christmas Eve, or host coffee hour. You’ll find out about these opportunities on this web site, during our Sunday morning announcements, and through our bi-monthly email newsletter. You may subscribe to the newsletter by providing your information here.
Would I be expected to make a financial contribution to the church?
We have an annual budget drive in the spring, when both members and friends are asked to pledge financial support to the church for the upcoming fiscal year. You would be asked to pledge an amount that is meaningful for you. Additional information about church finances and the annual budget drive may be found here.
How long should I attend First Church before becoming a member?
People vary widely in how long it takes for them to obtain a deeper sense of the fit between them and our church community. While Sunday morning services are often at the heart of the church experience, we encourage you to look beyond these services. Volunteer at our church fairs, come to a congregational meeting, and talk with our ministers, lay leaders, and other churchgoers. You can attend our Newcomers’ Breakfasts, church history talks, religious education programs, our book groups, and meetings of our Social Action Group.
I’d like to join, but I may only live in this area for a limited time. If I know that I’ll be leaving in a year or two, should I become a member?
There is no minimum time requirement needed to be a member of First Church. Just let us know when you do move out of the area, so that we can keep our membership records up to date.
What is the procedure for becoming a member of First Church?
If you desire membership at First Church, you would share your interest with a member of the Welcoming Committee. You’d also meet with our minister in order to talk about your interest in joining. Other than these conversations exploring and celebrating a desire to join this community, there is no test to pass, written statement of faith, or minimum standard needed to join.
You formally join First Church by signing the membership book during one of our Sunday morning new-member ceremonies that take place periodically throughout the church year. The membership book opens with our church covenant: “In the love of truth and the spirit of Jesus, we unite for the worship of God and the service of humanity.” You would add your name to the many who have signed this venerable book, dating back to 1882.
How to I leave membership at First Church?
We know that change is a part of life, and that sometimes your spiritual journey or your life leads you away from First Church in JP. If this is you, go with our blessing...and let us know!
If you are leaving, please email the Clerk (patricksimmons 85 [at gmail.com), the Office Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the Minister (email@example.com). Please clarify what your status will be going forward. Your options are:
Leaving but remaining an active member (To remain active, you must either be actively participating in church life or contact the church at least once a year to say you wish to be considered "active.")
Leaving but becoming an "inactive" member. (Inactive members may not vote in business meetings and are not participating in the life of the church.)
Resigning your membership
Please let Rev. Elizabeth know if you would like us to bless you in worship as before you go.
For more information, we invite you to contact Paul Miller of the Welcoming Committee, in person or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We hope that this information has helped you in your process of considering membership, and perhaps, in joining our community.