How can you become a member? Well, first of all, welcome to the community and we’re glad you asked! Please contact the Fr. James and he will be happy walk with you through the process of membership. Below are the sequential steps and concepts of membership at St. Christopher’s.
Belonging. We want you experience belonging here at St. Christopher’s, to feel that this is a community where your spirit is at home. In many ways, you can belong at St. Christopher’s without being a member, but we enjoy the mutuality, love, and commitment that comes from being members together. So for our part in creating a place of belonging, we are committed to be open, inviting and welcoming in heart, mind, and practice to newcomers. For your part of belonging, we ask you to ‘show up’ and be a part of the community. The biggest part of belonging is being present – physically, mentally, emotionally, frequently, and regularly. We ask this not only of you but of our entire community.
Baptism. Baptism is the “outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace” of membership in Christ’s Church. Baptism marks us as fully official followers of Jesus Christ and his Way. It is the basic common denominator of Christians. In Baptism we make sacred vows of belief and obedience to God. And once we are Baptized we focus on learning and living Christ’s teachings.
If you have not been Baptized and wish to be, speak with Fr. James. That is an exciting and wonderful desire. If you have been Baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” let us know the date or approximate date and place for our records. You can find out more about Baptism here.
Certifiable Membership. By default we consider you a member of the congregation you were baptized in. If you were baptized here and have not ‘changed churches,’ your membership is at St. Christopher’s. If you are coming from a different Lutheran or Episcopal congregation we can transfer your membership from that congregation to St. Christopher’s. And if you were a member of another Christian denomination, there may be other steps necessary to establish certified membership here. Please see Fr. James.
Having your membership certified does two things. First, it makes certain you can vote and take part in our democratic and representative decision making processes on the local, regional, and national levels. Second, it allows your participation to be traced by posterity. It is part of your Christian witness down through the years.
We expect that in the course of your Christian discipleship all our members will go through Confirmation. Confirmation has had many differing definitions. Here we understand Confirmation as…
1) a public reaffirmation of your Baptismal vows.
2) a commitment to live an earnest and mature faith in Christ.
3) training in the basics of Scripture, theology, and the Church’s traditions & worship. This is offered in Confirmation Classes but learning continues throughout one’s whole life.
4) receiving a special spiritual strengthening of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands by a Bishop
5) receiving the promise of this community and of the Universal Church to support, encourage, and uphold you in your faith.
Other Expectations of Members
It is impossible to lay out here all the necessities of living in Christ-like community and faith, but we will enumerate the most important for our life together.
1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
We mean it. Give your all to loving God. Strive to hold back nothing in this love. (Matt. 22:36-40)
2) Love your neighbor as yourself.
This includes loving strangers, Christians, non-Christians, the un-lovely, and even your enemies. It also means you must love yourself. (Matt. 22:36-40, 5:44, Jn 13:34 )
3) Give, Tithe, Sacrifice.
Jesus teaches that your heart will be wherever your treasure is (Lk. 12:33, 34). And he says that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35-36). Scripture teaches that giving the first 10% of what we earn is the basic standard of Christian giving. And we see in Jesus life that sacrifice is required of us all if we are follow God’s ways (Lk. 10:20-25).
We expect that our members will give at least a Tithe (10%) of their time, of their talent, and of their treasure (including money) to the mission, ministry, and well-being of the congregation. In addition to the Tithe we also give to other worthy causes in line with Christ’s teachings (Gen. 28:20-22, Neh. 10:35-37, Mal. 3:10-12). This congregation has no other regular source of income outside its members and donors. We know that this is a sacrifice. We also know that such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Heb. 13:16)
Please see our Stewardship and Serving tabs on our website for more details on how we make a difference together and how to give.
4) Celebrate, Be Grateful, and Receive God’s Blessings.
God is bountiful, generous, and kind (Lam. 3:22-23, I Chr. 16:34) . Every Sunday we celebrate the ‘Eucharist,’ a word that means ‘Thanksgiving’ in Greek. It is also known as ‘Holy Communion,’ the Sacrament where we are given unity with God and God’s People. This celebration of thanksgiving and unity is the central activity of the Christian Community. It is also a central attitude. We find that our life together, when lived with the love of Christ, is a source of joy, contentment, gratitude, and richness.
5) Serve others as though they were Jesus.
Jesus says being the servant of all, rather than being served, is the mark of greatness (Mk. 9:34-37). He also said we should serve others as if we were actually serving Jesus himself, in person (Matt. 25:34-40). Furthermore, we are to especially watch out for and care for those who are rejected by others and by society (Isa. 1:17). Every member at St. Christopher’s is expected to be engaged in this kind of service using the gifts, resources, and talents that they have been given by God.
6) Pray, Worship, Rest, & Learn
Being a Christian is an ever-ongoing process. Christianity is a way of life. And so as Christians it is normative to pray throughout each and every day, to read the Bible daily, to worship together and to rest weekly, and to take time to learn throughout the year (Acts 2:42). These are things that empower us all to live together in Christ and under the expectations listed above.
None of us here is perfect. That’s the point in saying we need God’s rescuing. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need God’s help. So if you feel like it will be challenging to meet these expectations but you’ll give it your best shot, then welcome to the club! You’ll fit right in! We know we won’t do these perfectly, but we think they are worth our best efforts.
Keep pursuing God. We’ll join right alongside you in that pursuit. And be encouraged: God always gives the power and strength to do the things God has asked us to do.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Bear with one another and,
if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other;
just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly;
teach and admonish one another in all wisdom;
and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.