“What does it mean to be a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Parish?”
And, What Does Such Membership Mean to You”
On July 31st, I preached a sermon entitled, “What does it mean to be a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Parish?” In response to the question I identified nine aspects of membership as gleaned from Scripture, especially during this season of green with the Sunday lessons after Pentecost focusing on the church’s ministry; Tradition as found summarized in Book of Common Prayer and particularly the Catechism or “Outline of the Faith”; The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church in terms of what constitutes ‘a member in good standing”; the Baptismal Covenant as a membership mission and vision statement and Reason, our articulated experience of being a member of God’s Family.
By way of review for those who heard the sermon and to share with those who were not present, I noted:
- Members of Emmanuel attend worship services on a regular basis.
- Members pray regularly, for themselves, members of their faith community and the world.
- Members care for one another, even those with whom they disagree.
- Members do not consider church a “spectator sport.” They give of their time, talent, and treasure to further the work of the church by:
- participating in ministry that utilizes their gifts
- pledging [planned regular giving] or tithing [giving 10% of one’s income] to the church
- Members yearn to learn by attending classes and lectures and reading and studying to deepen their knowledge and love of God.
- Members work tirelessly for positive change in the world through the ministry of the church and community-based charitable organizations.
- Members actively welcome everyone who walks through our doors. Members introduce themselves, engage visitors in conversation, invite them to coffee hour, and assist them if they are unfamiliar with the liturgy.
- Members are evangelists! They talk about their church – it’s ministries and its people. They can (and do) articulate what being a member of this worshipping community has meant to them.
- Members seek to live out their Baptismal Covenant as members of God’s family.
As we prepare for our congregational dinner and meeting on Sunday evening, September 11 at 5:30 to discern as a parish family what Christ is calling us to be and do next year and beyond, I invite you to consider a related question – “What does being a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Parish mean to you?” In short, how and why did you become a member? What compels and draws you to come to worship week after week? How does your membership influence your ministry – on a daily basis and as a member of the Vestry, Altar Guild, Flower Committee, EFM, Rector’s Forum, Music Committee, St. Agnes Guild, Usher, Worship Leader, Choir member, Acolyte, Garden Gang, etc. Said differently, in light of and as a result of your membership, what nourishes you, helps you, inspires you, humbles you, challenges you, governs you, stretches you? And what saddens you, angers you, disappoints you, depresses you, aggravates you? Said still differently, as a member, what do you want to see reinforced and expanded and what do you want to see improved as we look to the future of our life together as members of this parish family?
I suspect that the twelve questions the members of the Vestry answered (see Vestry Report for the Bishop in this issue of the Newsletter) will serve to aid in answering the question, “What does being a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Parish mean to you?
Our discussion on September 11th will be more meaningful and helpful if we take some time for personal prayerful reflection before our gathering to continue, with God’s help, to discern our vision for ministry in light of our mission for ministry: to “love God, and God’s creation with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
As a member of and in Christ’s body, I remain, with you,