Becoming a Member

Frequently Asked Questions About Membership

Why go to St. James’ Church or any other church?
One way to think about this is ordinary and human: it is much easier to make it in the world as part of a community/family. Belonging to a community is a basic human need. Here you share a purpose, ways of behaving toward one another, traditions and a sense that someone knows and cares about you.

The other way is religious or spiritual. For Christians, specifically, there is a story: God in Christ lived his life to give us freedom, loving us so that we might love others and thereby saving us from ourselves—meaning from false choice—by giving us better and deeper choices. We call it the Good News. The movement that spreads this news is called the church, and it’s radically welcoming to all who come.

What is a member?
A member is any person who has been baptized with water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, whether in the Episcopal Church or any other Christian church, and has requested that their baptism be recorded in this parish’s records. If you are not baptized and would like to find out what baptism means and when it is offered, do not hesitate to contact the rctor. The rector will be more than happy to talk with you and answer questions.

What is expected of me as a member?
We expect that you want to be among us for the primary purpose of worshipping God in joy and power. That you commit to worship as regularly as possible in your life. That you believe that God gives us all that we have and are, and that the people of God, including you, learn how to be a giver—to the church for its work, and to the needs of others. That life and church, are not about being right, but about being open. Members commit to rethink and re-do when they fail, and God is open to such “repentance”? again and again. That you help spread the Good News of God in Christ whenever and however possible for you. That you join with others not only in prayer, but in working for justice and peace in the human family. That you respect the dignity of every human being. In other words:

*Worship regularly

*Return and rethink when you fall away

*Give in proportion to what you have

*Spread the Good News of God’s love and serve others

If I can enjoy most everything about the church as a guest, why would I want to take on the responsibilities of being a member?
When you go to someone’s home for dinner, hopefully you enjoy a warm welcome, a generous meal, and fellowship with your friend and their family. But, there is a difference between being a guest at the table and a family member. Some say it is merely the common blood that flows through the family’s veins. But those who are adopted, married, or have had a commitment ceremony know that it is more. In a healthy family unit, there is a bond present. A commitment to take care of one another, to support one another through the good and the bad. This unspoken understanding generates an ease and freedom to be yourself, to be who God created you to be, safe in the knowledge that they are a part of you and you a part of them no matter what. The church word for this bond is “covenant.”? We who are baptized are united, adopted into the family of God. And not only in this life, but also in the life to come. Baptism is our way of expressing this commitment formally and publicly to God and to one another. Becoming a member of a local community of faith is the way we live out that covenant.

How do I become a member?
When you tell us that you wish to be a member, we, from that moment, consider you a member. So the best way to let us know you wish to become a member is to write a note, make a phone call, send an email ( or speak to the rector who will then record you as a member. If you’re a member of another Episcopal Church, you can contact that church (or ask us to do it) and ask that a Letter of Transfer of membership be sent from that church to St. James’ Church. If you are baptized here, confirmed or received by the Bishop, you become a member. Providing us your baptismal information (date & place) is requested, but if you do not have it, your word is good enough.

After I ask to be recorded as a member, is there anything else?
Absolutely! We want to recognize your decision and formally welcome you. Several times a year we have a Welcome Sunday. All you need to do is come to the 8:30 AM service on one of those Sundays. Sit anywhere you wish. Come forward at the appointed time along with others who have been recently recorded as members and those becoming members on that day. You do not have to participate in a Welcome Sunday to become a member. However, we hope you will, since it is our way of celebrating your becoming a part of this family. Contact the parish office for the date of the next Welcome Sunday.

I heard that if I become a member I could not only refer to myself as an Episcopalian but also as an Anglican. What is an Anglican?
The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion. In its simplest understanding, it is all the churches in the world that trace their roots back to the Church of England. There are over 70 million Christians who are a part of the Anglican Communion worldwide.

What if I am a member of another church, can I belong here too?
Definitely. It is important to remember that, first and foremost, you are a member of the family of God, which is accomplished through baptism. The choice then is where you feel drawn to live out your baptismal vows of worship and service to God. Many people who are members of another church, be it an Episcopal church or a church of a another denomination, choose to make St. James’ Church their second church home and be recorded as a member here as well. We welcome you to do this.

If I want to learn more before I decide to become a member, what can I do?
There are several ways for people to discover what it would mean to be a part of this community:

*Worship with us. Our Christian faith lived out in the Episcopal tradition is often summed up as “What we pray is what we believe.”? The best way to find out if you feel God calling you to be a part of this community is to live with us a while.

*Talk with us. We honor the questions that people bring. You should feel completely comfortable to ask other members of St. James’ Church questions about our church and the way we live out our faith. During Coffee Hour, following the morning worship service, is a great time to do that. If you would like to met with the rector (priest) or deacon, do not hesitate to contact them directly.

*Study with us. Throughout the year there are different opportunities offered to learn and grow, including Bible studies. We also provide newcomer classes for those wishing to learn more about how we live out the Christian faith. These are great places to ask questions. The parish office and our web site can provide more information.

*Serve with us. There are many volunteer opportunities at St. James’ Church, including opportunities for participating in worship and reaching out to those in need in our community. Relieving the suffering of others is a primary ministry of the Church. St. James’ Church offers several opportunities to help the poor, the hungry and homeless.

*Play with us. Come join us for parish suppers and other ways we gather together as a parish family. Newcomers and seekers are always welcome.

Is there anything beyond baptism?
The whole of the Christian life lies beyond baptism. The Book of Common Prayer describes baptism as “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church.”? In this sense, there is nothing further required for membership in the church. However, at different stages in one’s life there are other means of affirming one’s faith. Confirmation is an opportunity to make a mature affirmation of one’s faith in the presence of a bishop. All baptized persons are encouraged to do this, and it is especially appropriate for those who were baptized as infants. If you were confirmed in another tradition/church, you can be received into this tradition. Reaffirmation is available for those previously baptized and confirmed who would like to reaffirm their faith before a bishop. Confirmation, Reception and Reaffirmation all take place when one of our bishops visit, which usually happens once a year. We would be happy to talk with you about upcoming confirmation dates and ways to prepare.