During worship each week in the Episcopal Church we read from Holy Scripture. Every year the “Pascal Mystery,” the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection are heard anew. We begin our year of reading in December with stories that foretell Jesus’ birth. In January, during the season we call Epiphany, we read about Jesus’ baptism. By mid-January Jesus’ ministry to the world has begun and he is busy calling his disciples (learners, literally) and his ministry of teaching has begun. By the time Lent rolls around we read about Jesus’ demise; in Easter we read and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead; in Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming into the world and we move into “ordinary time” and read about what it’s like to be a follower and a believer in Christ.
In the New Testament,"call narratives" are stories of various types describing the events that lead people to follow Jesus. In the first call narrative in The Gospel of John, for instance, Jesus’ soon-to-be disciples were curious about where Jesus was staying and he said to them, “Come and See.” In Matthew's gospel we hear a story about Jesus encountering two brothers casting nets into the sea and Jesus saying to them, “Follow me and I’ll make you fish for people.” “Immediately,” as the story goes, the brothers leave their nets (and their livelihood) and follow him.
Where is Jesus in all of this? Good question. But just the same, it’s important to feel comfortable in church, to feel welcomed for who you are, to feel good about leaving your kids (if you have them) in a nursery or Sunday school, etc.
For most, membership in the church doesn’t happen that fast. People today are said to “shop” for churches. Visitors take mental notes on how they are welcomed, they check out the children’s programs, nursery and even the bathrooms. Often times people who are new to Christianity, and especially those whose lifestyles or circumstances have been ostricized by the church - divorced, gay, lesbian or transgendered persons - visit new churches wondering, “Will I be welcomed and accepted at this church, just as I am?
If you’ve read the section of our website describing worship styles, many Episcopalians choose “their church” using liturgical guidelines – i.e. because they are high, low or broad. Others join churches just because they happen like the priest or move to a new one because they dislike one!
Where is Jesus in all of this? Good question. But just the same, it’s important to feel comfortable at church, to feel welcomed for who you are, to feel good about leaving your kids (if you have them) in a nursery or Sunday school, etc.
In my experience it takes most folks six months to a year to decide to “join” a church and become a fully ﬂedged member. Truth be told, given what “dropping one’s nets” and following Jesus really means this is probably wise – best to hear at least half of the story of the person we believe to be the Son of God and the author of our salvation before signing up to follow him.
At St. George’s we invite you to Come and See. There’s plenty of time to talk about church doctrine and canon law and what it means to be a member in a parish of the Episcopal Church. If you are chomping at the bit to ﬁnd out, Google “Membership Episcopal Church” and after visiting several parish websites from California to Connecticut you’ll have it down – we all do it pretty much the same way and use the same Prayerbook and jargon : Baptism, Conﬁrmation, Reception, Communicants in Good Standing, and Letters of Transfer, etc..*
In the meantime we invite you to St. George’s, a place where YOU ARE WELCOME for who you are, just as you are and wherever you are in your journey.
Adult Membership in the Church: Committment &
This part gets a little tedious but we'll try to keep it simple.
Being a member of the Church at the most elemental level requires, first of all, that one has recieved the Sacramanet of Baptism with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (or Trinity). Baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity means that the baptized is a member of the Body of Christ in the world. The Episcopal church recognizes all such baptisms - we do not "re-baptize" anyone for official membership in the Episcopal church.
It is expected that all adult members of the Episcopal Church, after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and committment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of the Church or by a Bishop in communion with this church.
Most simply put, to become a member of the church we baptize those who have not received the Sacrament of Baptism, we confirm those who have not made a mature public affirmation of their faith and we receive those who are baptized and confirmed in Christian denominations other than the Episcopal tradition. Adults receiving the laying on of hands by a Bishop at Baptism are considered as both baptized and confirmed.
Communicants: All members of the church who have received Holy Communion in the Church at least three times during the preceding year are to be considered communicants of the church. Persons sixteen years or older who have done the same are adult communicants.
Communicants in good standing: All communicants of this Church who for the previous hear have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God, are to be considered communicants in good standing.
Letters of Transfer: When active members from other Episcopal (or Christian) Churches move from one church to another we request a lettter of transfer from that church. The letter of transfer indicates whether or not the new member was a (1) a communicant; 2) is recorded as being in good standing, 3) has been confirmed or received by a Bishop of the Episcopal Church or a Bishop in communion with this church.