Membership – who are members?
Membership in the Episcopal Church does not carry with it the formal expectations of other denominations. By canon law, (that is, church law), a member is someone who attends services and contributes financially on a regular basis, though in fact there is no definition of what "regular" means!
This leads us in the Episcopal Church to think of membership meaning individual readiness and commitment. We each have differing levels of understanding of our relationship with God, and we respond to the call to service and fellowship in different ways. In our tradition, the individual seeker decides for himself or herself what membership means, how it is lived out, and when it is achieved.
That said, there are some guideposts and suggestions. At Good Shepherd we welcome people from any background of faith and experience. Some are drawn to us for our liturgy, for our outreach into and beyond the community, for our church family activities from Bible study and discussion groups to deepen our faith, to our our fellowship and social events.
When people first arrive they are greeted and ushered to a pew and given a bulletin to enable them to join in the worship. Communion is offered without restriction to all visitors and members. We ask visitors to fill out a welcome card to let us know who you are, and place it in the collection plate during the offertory. Our priest will contact you the day after your visit with us to welcome you, offer you information about Good Shepherd, and visit you, if that’s appropriate.
To sum up what we mean by membership: It is a conviction of the heart and a commitment to a community of people. It provides a sense of home and belonging. It's a way of establishing roots and encouraging growth in faith and fellowship. It provides an interdependence and accountability for what we say we want and will do for ourselves and the community, and participating in the leadership of our common life. Members are encouraged to offer their time, talent and treasure to support the work and mission of Good Shepherd, including professional skills, financial pledges, and possibly learning to use newly discovered gifts of God along the way.
At Good Shepherd we care for each other as a supportive community, as a place to meet, with the opportunity for a deeper relationship with God. We welcome all to find a spiritual home with us, and to explore what membership is and might be.