Membership has a long history...
From our country’s colonial days, church membership in the Congregational tradition has been considered both a right and a privilege. Our 17th century ancestors left England to establish a ``purified`` or reformed version of the Church of England. They envisioned autonomous and self-governing faith communities united, not by authority, but by bonds of covenant and commitment.
This structure remains intact today. As part of the present-day United Church of Christ, each congregation is an autonomous, self-governing body. We unite with our sister churches in New Hampshire and around the country through structures of relationship, not hierarchy. In the UCC, Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, is the head of the church.
In this context, church membership is precious. Like citizenship in a democracy, each person's voice is heard, and each person's involvement matters. Who we are, what we do, how we fund our activities, and who serves in leadership are all determined by each congregation. UCC churches are transparent in their decisions and actions.
The journey to membership…
At the United Church of Christ in Keene, we honor and respect everyone’s unique journey toward membership. Many of our people come from other faith traditions and feel tentative about joining a new community. Some have never attended a Christian church before. Others left church earlier in their lives and need time to get acquainted, test the waters, and get a sense of fit. Finally, there are those who visit, immediately feel at home, and are eager to make a more public affirmation of intent. We understand each of these scenarios; it is the reason we are patient about membership, why we embrace members and friends equally in our hearts, our governance, and our work.
So, what does membership mean…
At the United Church of Christ in Keene, we liken membership to the difference between living together and getting married. Deciding to become a member of a church is a prayerful act of commitment, one in which you declare before God and the congregation that this faith community is to be your church home. After years of wondering and wandering, you are settling down, taking a vow of service and commitment to this Church, in this time, and in this place.
As a member of the Church, you will have voting privileges regarding Church matters. You become a shared “owner.” This house of worship becomes your house.
As a self-sustaining organization, we encourage all those in our midst to support us financially through an annual estimate of giving. These funds become the foundation of our annual operating budget. Please know, however, membership is not dependent upon financial support. No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
Membership is a spiritual milestone…
Above all, church membership is a spiritual milestone. Entering the daily life and fellowship of a specific congregation signifies an underlying devotion to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the role that commitment will make in your life. From its earliest beginnings, Christianity has been a faith practiced in community. Membership is an expression of gratitude for the richness and blessing of this communal life.
Joining a church often feels like an act of trust—trust that this relationship will be reliably loving and supportive. If you are a parent, grandparent, or guardian, you are also entrusting us with the spiritual care and education of your children. We take these responsibilities seriously, adhering to Safe Spaces Policies and a Behavioral Covenant that ensure mutual protection and regard.
At UCC Keene, we embrace persons of all faith backgrounds, age, ability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and socio-economic status. All are truly welcome here!
While no human institution accomplishes the work of Christ with perfection, our open, warm, and caring spirit is often cited as the reason people join. This is a real and intentional part of who we are. As a member, your faith journey becomes a shared experience. As one body, one community of faith, we bond as brothers and sisters in Christ, learning, growing, praying, and serving with love and compassion. The gifts and talents you bring are as important as what you gain.
But I’m not sure what I believe...
The United Church of Christ is a “non-creedal” church; we do not presume or require that members embrace any specific body of belief. Come as you are---doubters, seekers, and seasoned believers!
That said, as a member of the wider United Church of Christ, our religious values tend to be progressive. We regard scripture as the inspired, not literal word of God---that God is still speaking, informing our understanding of love in the context of contemporary life, knowledge, and issues. We passionately embrace and affirm all persons regardless of age, ability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and socio-economic status. We actively pursue opportunities to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. In short, our members commit to walk open-heartedly in the world: serving others, growing in faith, worshipping regularly, and welcoming the movement of God's creative Spirit in our lives.
We are sure you have many more questions about this important step in your faith journey. Please know we are here to support and assist you along the way! Pastor Cindy is available to talk with you and guide you in this important decision and relationship. She can be reached at email@example.com or by calling the Church Office at (603) 352-4136.
May God’s blessings be upon you!