Becoming a Member
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
- Frederick Buechner
Each member of our congregation is a gift. Each person brings a life story, experiences, talents, and perspectives that are unique to them. Each person enriches the life we share together. It is a celebration when people feel God calling them to join our community of faith! Sometimes, we even get a cake (although we look for just about any excuse to get a cake around here…)
Membership at First Lutheran Church is not like membership in a club or an organization. You do not have to meet any special criteria, be part of any religious background or ethnic heritage, look or dress a certain way, be in a certain kind of relationship, or have a certain level of education. There was a time with churches catered to particular groups of people. We pray for the day when those days will be over. To belong here, you only have to be human. (If you are reading this, you probably are.)
Membership at FLC (or any congregation) is about more than just paying dues and having your name on a list. Lists don’t mean squat with God. God wants our hearts and our hands to do God’s work in the world. Membership in a church means becoming part of a body – Jesus’ risen body – that gathers for worship and is sent out in service. In that sense, nobody “goes to church” at FLC. Rather, we are the church—God’s people in the world. Membership here is about being a follower of Jesus—living the way he lived, loving they way he loved, giving the way he gave—freely, graciously, sacrificially, and joyfully.
People join First Lutheran Church in a number of ways. For those who come to us from other Lutheran congregations, or from churches that are in Full Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (The Episcopal Church, The Presbyterian Church—USA, The United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church, The Moravian Church, and the Reformed Church in America) all that is needed is a Letter of Transfer from one’s former congregation. The person is then welcomed formally in worship by the whole congregation.
Those who come to us from other Christian churches are received by Affirmation of Baptism, a rite in which a person publicly says “YES” to their Baptism and re-affirms their intention to live in community with the church. In both of these instances, membership is preceded by a time of conversation and study with the Pastor.
Those who come to us from other traditions or from none at all are received through the sacrament of Holy Baptism, in which they become members of the Christian Church. This is preceded by a more extended time of study, prayer, and discernment called the Catechumenate (a “catechumen” is a person who is preparing for baptism, coming from the Greek word for “receiving instruction”) in which a person delves into the mysteries of the Christian faith, develops a relationship with the community, becomes familiar with the Bible, and ultimately feels God calling them to a life of service and joy as a follower of Jesus. New members coming to FLC in this way are generally baptized at the Great Vigil of Easter, the most joyful and important service of the year.