What does Membership mean?
A member is one who has been baptised, either as infant, child, youth or adult, and has made a public profession of faith before the congregation. Membership is not required in order to worship at a United Church or participate in Communion, and many who regularly attend worship are “adherents” rather than full members. (People who are not “confirmed” members, or who have never transfered their membership from another denomination of the Christian Church or another congregation of the United Church of Canada are referred to as “adherents”.)
Benefits of Membership
The majority of our pastoral charge’s council must be members. In addition, only a member can vote on spiritual matters at congregational meetings—usually whether to issue a “call” to a new minister to join the congregation. (On temporal matters—those that deal with finances, property, etc.—a motion is usually made at the start of a congregational meeting to allow all who are present, members and adherents, the right to vote.)
Transfer of Membership and Removal from Rolls
Although confirmation takes place at the congregational level, the person is a member of the entire United Church of Canada, not just one congregation; therefore membership can be transferred freely from congregation to congregation, or to another denomination if that is the persons desire.
A congregation may remove members from its roll for non-attendance. (The Manual suggests an absence of three years, but the congregation is free to set its own period of time). This is only carried out after every possible measure has been taken to be in touch with the member.
In order to become a member, a person goes through a process called “confirmation”. This involves a series of discussion based sessions on topics such as God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Church, and how we live our faith within the context of the United Church of Canada. Following this, the candidate makes a public profession of faith before the congregation, thereby “confirming” the statements made by his or her parents during baptism. If the person is unbaptised, the minister baptises the person before the profession of faith. The new member’s name is then entered on the official Roll of Members for that congregation.