What does it mean to join a Church?
Let us begin by distinguishing between joining the universal Church and the local Church. One joins the universal Church by making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and being baptized in water in the name of the holy Trinity.
You can join this particular congregation by virtue of being baptized here or having your membership transferred here as explained more fully under LETTER OF TRANSFER.
Many people join a local church because they know that being a Christian makes them part of the family of God. They need to know the local branch of that family and through joining in common worship, giving, fellowship, and service become more fulfilled as a believer.
The Rev. David Watson of England talks about the need for three conversions. First to Christ, then to the church, then to the world! The word conversion conjures up the image of a radical transformation in the way we think and act, a move from shallow thought and actions to deep meaningful commitment and action.
Most of us already understand the need for a commitment to Christ and this will be reinforced in the process of joining the Church. The Church is the place where we discover Christ and grow to be like him. We discover our natural and spiritual gifts and grow in confidence as we use them. The Church is also the springboard for service in the world.
The church is not always an easy place to belong because it is full of imperfect people who are all at different stages in their Christian maturity. The local Church is often more like a hospital for sinners than a retreat for saints. However being there is what Christ demands of us!
If you decide to join Church of the Word you will be challenged to:
- Attend Worship regularly. You need to be in the service on time in a positive and expectant frame of mind to know Christ in the liturgy and sacraments.
- Tithe. This means setting aside 10% of your income for the work of the local Church. Beyond the tithe you may wish to give to missionaries or other charities.
- Fellowship. You need to grow as a Christian and you must learn to take in before you can give out. It may mean joining a Home Group.
- Serve. The vitality of your Christian walk depends upon actively seeking ways to serve Christ in others. This may be in the regular weekly activities of the church or in the wider community.
How do I join the Church?
The simple answer to “How do I join the church?” is “It depends!” Joining the church depends on your prior religious background and your personal faith.
If you have not been baptized, the way to join the church is to be baptized. Adults, children, and infants may be baptized, as long as you (or your parents/guardians) are willing to profess your faith in Jesus Christ and to follow him as your Lord. Preparation for baptism is conducted through a special preparation class under the guidance of the Pastor. You can find the Baptism service on page 299 of the Book of Common Prayer and reading through it will help you to understand some of the thinking behind baptism and what is being asked of you. Helpful booklets are also available.
LETTER OF TRANSFER
If you have already been baptized and were a member of another parish, then we can send for your “Letter of Transfer” at your request. They will respond with a record of your baptism, confirmation, or other information about your status, which will then be entered into our parish record book. This means that you are now a member of this local Church. The Pastor will then welcome you into membership at a Sunday service.
WELCOME INTO MEMBERSHIP
Periodically there will be opportunities for us to celebrate together with an appropriate liturgy for welcoming people into full membership in Church of the Word.
From time to time the Pastor will offer a membership class which will prepare candidates for baptism or adults (over 16) for formal welcoming into membership within our church family. We anticipate a visit from Bishop John Guernsey of DOMA sometime after April for a Sunday service. At that time there will be baptisms, confirmations and reception into membership.