“When you join a church, you are just picking which hot mess is your favorite”. Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday
“And we learned, perhaps the hard way, that church isn’t static. It’s not a building, or a denomination, or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near, when a meal, a story, a song, an apology, and even a failure is made holy by the presence of Jesus among us and within us.” Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday
Membership means that you consider St. Mary’s your spiritual home. It means that you come to church when you can and participate in some activity that brings you closer to God and to others. It means that you pool your gifts of time and money with others of the community to make the world a better place.
One can become a member in a variety of ways. Typically someone attends worship, goes out for coffee with the priest or a parishioner, attends a newcomer party or two, and stands up in church for the formal welcome. But others find that process altogether too formal or too public, and that’s ok too.
To give you a better idea, here are the words of welcome we do a few times a year –
New Member’s Welcome
Celebrant On behalf of the Episcopal Church, and as Senior Warden of Saint Mary’s, I formally recognize you as members of our congregation.
Congregation We welcome you to Saint Mary’s. What you have to give we gladly receive. What you need from us we gladly offer. We will be here to celebrate your joys and comfort your sorrows. Join us in our work and in our study, as we sing and pray our way through the seasons and cycles of this Christian life. Together let us pattern our lives after Christ, walking in his ways of compassion and justice, and inviting all people to God’s holy table.
New Members We accept your welcome and are happy to join with you in this ministry.
Celebrant May God’s grace surround and keep us all.
Once someone becomes a member, some things that happen:
- invitation to participate in a coffee hour team. There are 8 teams, who are responsible for 1 Sunday every couple of months, which involve providing treats and making sure everyone feels welcome
- added to a Pod – which are 10 randomly assigned small groups throughout the congregation. The leader of each ‘Pod’ (like peas in a pod, get it?) keeps the group connected in celebrating life joys and sharing its challenges.
- invited to turn in a financial commitment. We strive for 100% participation, the amount of commitment is private, but the hope is that everyone can contribute something to our financial health and capacity for ministry
Currently St. Mary’s has just shy of 300 members representing about 170 households.