November 1, 2004
For an overall view of a Membership Committee's responsibilities see page 95
of the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Congregational Handbook, a blue 8.5 x 11 inch book which should be
available in your congregational office and is also on the UUA website.
The description that follows is of a Membership Committee which is divided
into three teams or subcommittees: Greeting, Assimilation/Retention, and Caring.
Greet visitors each Sunday, hold New Unitarian Universalist (UU) classes as well as membership
ceremonies at least twice a year, help visitors and members find places to
connect within the congregation, provide appropriate publications relating to
membership, maintain contact with friends and members who come irregularly,
provide caring for those in need.
The Greeting Subcommittee chairperson recruits and organizes five greeting
teams (one for each Sunday of the month) of six to eight people each: one
verger, two to four ushers, three Visitor Table greeters, one coffee
maker/cleanup person and two after-service greeters. The Greeting chairperson is
responsible for maintaining a welcoming presence from the half-hour before the
Sunday service through the half-hour afterward.
Verger—The verger is responsible for seeing that the meeting room is
properly set up on Sunday morning well before the service starts and that the
room is at a comfortable temperature. The verger places hymnals on every other
chair, sees that the chalice has fuel and matches, replaces too-short candles,
picks up any small trash, and generally makes sure the room is inviting.
Ushers—Two to four ushers will pass out orders of service at the
door, direct late-arriving people to chairs, take up the collection, and count
the number attending. Place the collection money in an envelope (found in the
Visitor's Desk) with the date, amount, and number of those attending the
service. Take the money envelope to the church office and put it through the
slot in the door after the service. Ushers should arrive and be on duty twenty
minutes before the service.
Before-Service Visitor Table Greeters should also arrive twenty minutes
early since visitors may come early. Three are needed for the before-service
period and two for the half-hour afterward. More may be needed during peak
visitation periods. The Visitor Desk greeters will greet and encourage
first-time visitors to sign a New Visitor information sheet. Return visitors
will be asked to sign the Return Visitors' log. All visitors should be given
temporary name tags. Two greeters will remain at the Visitor's Desk. The third
will circulate among those arriving, attempting to steer visitors to the
Visitor's Desk and generally helping them feel welcome.
The following information should be on the Visitor's Desk each Sunday for
Much of this material can also be placed into a folder to be handed to a visitor. Ask first. Some visitors may not want that much information on their first visit. If you do choose to make up Visitor Packets they should also include welcoming
letters from the Membership Chair and/or minister.
Greeters should look for a note each Sunday from the Membership Chair,
alerting them to anything special to do or watch for on that day. Whenever
possible names of possible return visitors will be listed on the note so that
greeters can welcome them by name.
Post-Service Greeters—There will be two post-service greeters each
Sunday. One will station her/himself in the designated Visitor's Corner in the
multipurpose room to greet visitors who stay for coffee hour. The second greeter
will circulate, steering visitors to that location. The greeters' primary
function is to see that visitors are not standing by themselves, but are talking
with others. Greeters should introduce visitors to members, provide brochures,
and answer questions. Greeters should also direct specific friends and members
to engage visitors in conversation.
Coffee Preparer/Clean Up Person—One coffee preparer each week will
prepare a large pot of regular coffee and a smaller pot of decaffeinated coffee,
to be ready in the multipurpose room fifteen minutes before the close of service.
S/he will begin pouring coffee into cups when the service ends so as to minimize
waiting in line for coffee. The preparer will also provide a plate of cookies
and watch over the coffee pots during coffee hour to minimize spills and for
child safety reasons. When most of the people have left the building the coffee
preparer will clean up, returning pots and other items to the kitchen.
Visitor Follow Up—Within three days of visiting for the first time,
visitors should be telephoned by one of the greeters or someone else on the
Membership Committee. The caller should acknowledge their visit, ask if they
have any questions or would like further information, and invite them back. It's
been shown that phone calls rather than notes result in a much higher return
rate of visitors. Mail them any information they ask for or pass on requests for
information to the appropriate person, i.e., minister, Religious Education (RE) director, etc. Such
calls should be no more than five minutes in length unless the visitor has
questions. Within a day or so, telephone, email, or mail the membership chair
with the results of your calls so a record can be kept of each visitor's level
When Visitors Come Back a Second or Third Time—Greet them and their
children by name, if possible. Set them up with a "buddy" who will answer
questions, introduce them to other people, and help them find small groups to
connect with. The buddy should call them during the week and invite them to a
non-Sunday morning church function—a social event or class or just to lunch or
Making Nametags—Make permanent name tags when visitors become
regular in attendance.
Publicize classes by placing notices on bulletin boards, in the order of
service, the newsletter, and with Sunday morning announcements. Keep a sign-up
sheet at the Visitors' Table for visitors to indicate if they'd like classes.
The classes should introduce visitors to the church and to Unitarian
Universalism. Prospective members should also be invited to take a UU history
class (hopefully part of the adult education offerings), and to have a personal
visit with the minister and perhaps the membership chair or RE director.
Newcomer classes help visitors and new members get connected and hopefully make
them more committed to our church and religion. The classes, including
discussions of responsible stewardship, can help them understand that joining a
church is a serious commitment.
Possible ways to hold Newcomer Classes:
Attendance is often greatest when the classes are either held before or after
church on Sunday. In both cases food may help draw visitors in. Before church
plan a light breakfast. After church plan a lunch as part of the event.
Consider showing the video, An Heretical History, as part of
visitor/prospective member classes. The 28-minute video on Unitarian and
Universalist history is available for about $25 from the Unitarian Universalist
Church, Rockford, IL or phone (815) 398-6322.
Personnel Required for Classes
Keeping Friends and Members Interested and Involved—Members of the
Assimilation Subcommittee should review the membership list periodically (with
the help of the membership chair, minister, Director of Religious Education (DRE) and others) to determine who
might appreciate help in finding ways to connect. Watch also for members who are
over committed and help them find ways to share their responsibilities.
A key part of assimilation is in the personal touch—calling friends and
members who are less active. Use these calls to find out why they're not
attending, what they're interested in and what it would take to draw them back
into congregational life. Pass this information on to the appropriate people.
Members appreciate being contacted occasionally without being asked for money or
to serve on a committee. Don't use these calls to attempt to force members into
committee work or ask for money. If friends and members are found to be in need
of caring, the Caring Committee should be contacted.
Interest Finders—Give Interest Finder forms to new members/friends
to fill out when they join or become involved in the congregation. These forms
permit new members to indicate which areas of congregational life they'd like to
be involved in and what special skills they have. For an example see Interest Finder. They may also list hobbies,
sports and other recreational and social activities. The information on these
forms should be compiled in a database which can be used to identify prospective
committee members and to organize social groups, such as those who like to
bicycle or play bridge.
Culling the Membership List—The Assimilation Subcommittee is
responsible for annually updating the membership list, to remove names of
members who have moved or no longer meet the requirements of membership. Consult
the bylaws as to the proper procedure for removing and adding members.
The Caring Subcommittee is a subgroup of the Membership Committee, although
in most public settings, including newsletter announcements, it refers to itself
as the Caring Committee.
The Caring Committee provides deliberate care in a timely manner to members
and friends who need help in coping with an illness, injury, death, or other
personal or family crisis. It also acknowledges selected celebratory occasions
such as births, high school graduations, and other significant events in the
lives of friends and members.
The committee will respond to any indications that friends and members need
caring, including any mention of such need during Sunday morning joys and
concerns, reports from other members, etc. The chair will organize any such
events, calling upon others as necessary.
There is no formal list of subcommittee members. All members of the
congregation are considered to be members of the Caring Committee and may be
called upon as needed to provide care.
Calling, Writing and Visiting—Individuals and teams will be
recruited from the congregation to telephone or visit members and friends as
necessary at home, in hospitals, and convalescent and retirement centers, etc.
Members may also be asked to write and send notes of support and encouragement
to people in need.
A person from the committee should take note on Sunday morning of personal
issues raised during candles of joy and concern. If an issue is voiced that
might warrant a follow up phone call or card please do so or notify the chair or
assistant chair. In cases where help might seem warranted, a phone call is
suggested. In other cases, where we simply should acknowledge someone's pain (or
joy) a card is appropriate. Consider the merits of each case.
Cards (or a personal note from someone on the committee) should be sent, for
example, to acknowledge the death of a non immediate family member and for the
following joys (for example): significant career achievement, announced wedding
anniversary, significant personal achievement, graduation from high school,
college, or a professional course, passage into significant ranks of Boy or Girl
"Thinking of You" cards should also be sent on the first anniversary of a
death of a close relative. A calendar should be kept for that purpose by the
chair or other designated member and the minister notified as pertinent dates
approach. Other members of the congregation who are close friends of the
survivors should also be notified.
Food Preparation—Friends and members will be called upon to
occasionally prepare and deliver a meal or part of a meal for other members and
friends who are experiencing a personal or family crisis. This service will
usually last two to three days. In unusual circumstances, where the person lives
alone but will be back on his/her feet in a matter of weeks, we will consider
providing food for longer periods. The committee and minister should discuss
these cases since it would seriously tax our resources and our volunteers to
engage in other than short-term projects.
Most people are willing to prepare food occasionally. Whenever possible
solicit those members who live reasonably close to the person in crisis or who
are known to be close friends. Try not to use the same people repeatedly.
Transportation—Some members have indicated a willingness to
transport food to members who are in need and, if appropriate, to spend a few
minutes visiting or sharing a meal with them. Members may also be asked on
occasion to transport someone to a medical appointment or to run errands for
those who cannot do that for themselves.
Child Care—The Caring Committee will occasionally organize child
care in situations where one or more of the primary care givers is ill, injured,
hospitalized, or in recovery.
Births—Births to friends and members should be noted and celebrated
with a delivered meal or small gift.
If in Doubt—If a request for caring seems questionable or beyond the
capacity of the congregation it is the responsibility of the Caring Committee
chair (with ministerial advice) to investigate and determine if the congregation
should properly be involved.
Dissemination of Information—When appropriate, the membership can be
notified (and help solicited) through the congregational email list or the
telephone tree for a specific caring need which requires substantial help from
others. Please be mindful of personal situations which should be kept
confidential. The Membership Chair should approve all such email and telephone
A Caveat—Having started a program of conscious recognition of joys
and concerns we must be consistent. That is, we must not overlook any new
babies, any deaths of family members, any serious incapacitations. At the same
time, we can only know of those things that we observe or that people tell us
about. The congregation has an obligation to notify us, including those persons
who need care.
Publicity—A standard, brief notice will be placed in each issue of
the newsletter, noting the availability of the committee and who to call.
Occasional notices will also be placed in the Sunday orders of service.
When the Minister is Out of Town—Consult the chair of the Committee
on Ministry if you have questions about the appropriate care to provide.
If the Need is Obvious—The Caring Committee chair should be notified
of all requests for care that come to other committee members, to prevent
duplication. But if a call for care comes to a committee member and the need is
obvious and immediate and the chair is not available, just do it.
Sharing the Load—The coordinator of a caring event should keep track
of the names of members who respond and pass that information to the chair of
the Caring Committee so those people don't get called on for the next event.
People who receive caring also often like to have a list of those who responded
so they can personally thank them.
For more information contact interconnections @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Wednesday, September 14, 2011.
Sidebar Content, Page Navigation
More Ways to Search
Donate to Support This Program and the Ongoing Work of the UUA
Read or subscribe to UUA.org Updates for the latest additions to our site.
Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.