What does membership mean?
A member is one who has been baptized, either as an 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 are termed adherents if they are not “confirmed”, or have never transferred their membership from another denomination of the Christian Church or another congregation of the United Church of Canada.
In order to become a member, a person goes through a process called “confirmation”. This involves a series of discussions based 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 in unbaptised, the minister baptizes the person before the profession of faith. The new member’s name is then entered on the official Roll of Members for that congregation.
Benefits of membership
Only members of the church can sit on the Session, the committee that oversees the pastoral care of the church. 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 dealing 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
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 the another denomination.