Path to Membership
Perhaps you have joined us for worship services or other activities for only a few months, or perhaps you are a long-time friend of our congregation. Now you are feeling moved to explore formal Membership at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier (UCM). You may be wondering how this works.
This page explains some of the parts to Membership at UCM. It contains the following four sections:
- The Membership Commitment
- What is the Next Step?
- Signing and Celebrating
- Now I’m a Member…
The Membership Commitment
We truly hope that you will choose to become a member of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier (UCM). As members, we hold the following expectations for ourselves:
- Showing up Sunday services and classes are the foundation of our community, and they are enriched by the regular presence of every member and friend. No one takes attendance, and we all accept that some choose to be present more often than others.
- Service We are community built on and committed to service – service both to UCM and to the greater communities of which we are a part. Each of us finds our own way to contribute our time and effort, whether through committee work, Coffee Hour hospitality, lay ministry, and/or volunteering for church functions or social action initiatives.
- Stewardship Each of us annually pledges financial support to UCM according to our ability to contribute. Our Stewardship Team shares the UUA’s ‘Fair Share Guidelines’ each year, encouraging each Member and friend who wishes to pledge, to offer a generous gift within their means. The act of contributing is far more important than the dollar amount of the contribution. Many “friends of UCM,” who are not official members, also contribute generously. Part of the commitment of becoming a Member includes becoming a steward of our church community, committing to give a financial contribution (in any amount as you discern) each calendar year.
What is the Next Step?
As in most churches, there are activities for education and reflection about the denomination you wish to join. Beginning in the Fall of 2020, we have introduced a new Five Pathways to Membership program, which invites all who are interested to learn about and engage with UCM virtually, socially, and personally. We encourage New Members to join us on this spiritual journey of exploration by completing at least two options within each of the five ‘pathways,’ then choosing at least one of the five pathways to fully complete all options (and/or create your own opportunities for engagement).
Participating in one of our “New UU” sessions. These informal sessions give you a chance to get to know some current members as well as some other newcomers, and learn a little about UCM and Unitarian Universalism. If you would like more information about this event, you can talk with anyone on the Membership & Hospitality Committee, or our Minister. Completion of “New UU” classes are highly recommended options included within our Five Pathways to Membership program. If you are not able to attend them in person/virtually when they are offered, we have video recordings of past classes that we invite you to watch. If you have already recently been a member of another UU congregation, however, you may simply transfer your membership.
Signing and Celebrating
Every signing of the Membership Book is a cause for celebration — both for you and for us. New members are recognized and welcomed by the congregation in a New Member Recognition ceremony. You and the other participating New Members will be acknowledged during a Sunday Worship Service, and will be invited to sign the church Membership Book. Once you have done this, you will be an active member of our congregation. Membership entitles you to vote at congregational meetings so your voice will be heard regarding important congregational issues. Other benefits of membership include access to pastoral care and support when you are faced with life’s challenges, and ministry for life’s passages – marriage, child dedication, and memorial services.
Now I’m a Member…
What do I do now that I’m a formal member?
We hope a lot! There are so many ways to be involved, including working on committees, teaching in our Lifespan Spiritual Exploration (LSE) program, singing in the choir, and helping with special events such as the Holiday Fair and Rummage Sales (when we are able to have them in person). Attending Sunday morning Worship Services is always a meaningful contribution to the life of our church. This kind of participation, along with an identifiable financial contribution each year, is part of maintaining active Membership. Every Member finds the right fit among myriad options. Don’t be reluctant to try something new! Our Chalice Circles are particularly popular with New Members, as they afford the opportunity to connect with about 6-10 people in a focused, intimate, conversational setting. These include our Small Group Ministry program, and our Seasoned Souls and Soul Matters groups.
Welcome to the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. The rest, as they say, is up to you.