There are many good reasons. The first is spiritual. In the words of Rev. Bruce Southworth,
•What does it mean to be part of a religious community – a liberal religious community? Answers are as varied as each member, but themes emerge.
•We seek wholeness (traditionally called salvation.) Freedom to be who we are, to honor our best selves, to grow our souls, to think for ourselves about religious living – such personal freedom encourages us in the search for wholeness…
•We seek principles to guide our living and to make a more just world. Interdependence is the reality of all life, and the spark of the divine within each of us responds to the spark within one another ….
•We seek companionship and community. Here kindred spirits work at trusting Life's goodness and beauty to live with greater hope and courage, as we overcome fear of its pain and heartache….
•We celebrate this precious gift of Life and give thanks for this sacred creation….
•We take time apart from the daily stresses and worries of our lives to become more fully human and alive.
•Here we nurture our spiritual lives and help transform the world.
Membership is also a public commitment: to support the values and principles of liberal religion; to support and encourage one’s own and others’ efforts to grow spiritually and to put faith into daily practice; and to support the congregation and the denomination.
Another is a more practical, institutional reason. Only members can vote. While this does not affect most of our week-to-week experience at Community, when important decisions need to be made, you may want to have your say. You can only do this officially if you are a member. And only members serve in elected or certain appointed positions. Being involved in the leadership is a way to “grow your soul” and to foster Unitarian Universalism.
How Do I Prepare for Membership?
While signing the membership book is a simple step, it has great significance. If you are already a Unitarian Universalist, you will want to learn more about our particular congregation. Or, like many, you may be coming from a different religious background, or no religious background, and want clarification of UU principles and practices.
Here are some opportunities you should consider:
•Attend worship services regularly for at least several months.
•Attend a Path to Membership Orientation offered about once a month.
•Attend the New UU. These series of classes are held periodically throughout the year and provide a good introduction to what we, as a denomination and congregation, are all about.
•Schedule an appointment with one of the Ministers or the Membership Coordinator to discuss your interests and concerns, and to get answers to your questions.
•Read about Unitarian Universalism
•The following may be purchased through our Bookstall on Sundays or through the Unitarian Universalist Association Bookstore at (800) 215-9076 or uua.org/bookstore.
?UU Pocket Guide (third edition) edited by John A. Buehrens
?A Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism
?(rev. ed. 1998) by John A. Buehrens, and F. Forrester Church
?Being Liberal in an Illiberal Age: Why I Am a Unitarian Universalist (rev. ed. 1995) Jack Mendelsohn
How Do I Join?
You join by signing the Membership Book which is available every Sunday following the Worship Service. A representative of the Membership Committee will welcome you and give you a packet of information. Once you have joined, you will be invited to participate in a welcoming ceremony during a Sunday service to publicly celebrate your commitment. These are usually held in January and June.
What are the Responsibilities of Membership?
Following are specific ways we serve as members of our religious community. These are goals for a lifetime and are not accomplished all at once!
•Attend worship regularly.
•Work on your spiritual development. There are many avenues, starting with reading, reflecting, and becoming more observant of yourself, others, and the natural world. Participate in adult enrichment courses or join a Community Circle. Help people in need through our Action for Justice program. Spiritual growth is a life-long endeavor that is up to each individual, with the support of the congregation.
•Serve the congregation by giving your time and talents. Working together in the many ways that help run our congregation, small or large, is a way to get to know others. As time allows, choose activities in which you can put your talents and interests to work and that you will find most rewarding. Even relatively simple things, such as helping with coffee, are important because they foster community.
•Participate in the democratic process. Attend congregational meetings, get informed, and exercise your right to vote.
•Pledge at a stewardship level. Giving financially, as one is able, is crucial to the health of the congregation and its ability to serve its members and the community at large.
•Be involved in service to others. Our congregational is involved in activities that provide ways in which we can serve the larger community such as our Shelter for Homeless Men, or an ongoing Task Force of our Action for Justice Committee.
•Connect to the wider UU movement. Read World, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s magazine, which voting members receive free, or you may want to attend a conference or workshop with other UUs.