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Putting on the Membership Apron
Putting on the Membership Apron

What does it mean to be a member in a congregation? How much can we ask of members?  I believe that membership should signify a commitment to the congregation and it's mission as expressed by the Rev. Michael Piazza.

"Becoming a member of a church means you take off your bib and put on an apron"

He declared to a group of UU ministers at the recent Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) Institute. I remember the moment when I really felt I had become a "real" member of my own congregation.

It wasn't when I started dropping a weekly check into the offering basket.

It wasn't when I took my first religious education class.

It wasn't when I signed the membership book.

It wasn't even when I became moderator (a Universalist church position similar to president) of the congregation.

I felt I became a "real" member when I spent a full Saturday as part of a work party doing a deep cleaning of the church building before ingathering Sunday.

I'm not saying that membership only comes with a scrub brush and mop.  But I do believe that when we become a member of a congregation, we should be asked to change our posture from guest to host, from visitor to steward. As hosts, we make sure the guests find a welcoming and nurturing spiritual community.  As lifelong seekers, we grow our own souls though our own continuous faith development.  As stewards, we offer our time and money to help sustain and grow that community.  As members we agree to serve in these roles and more, in covenant with one another and with our highest ideals. As Brother Sun says, we do what must be done.   

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About the Author

  • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. She serves congregation in Northeast Ohio and Western New York. She is part of the LeaderLab Design team providing Leadership Development resources and other trainings to congregations.

Comments (4) (Open)

vitalleaders (not verified) 4 years 3 months ago
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It might be helpful to present it as a conversation-starter. "What do you think membership should mean in our congregation? Here's one person's thoughts."

Rae Lynn Kasdan (not verified) 4 years 3 months ago
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good idea.

Rae Lynn Kasdan (not verified) 4 years 3 months ago
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I think about this stuff, a lot, because for several years I have been the organizer of the weeding contingent at church. Even though I would like to share this widely with congregation, I worry about people thinking that I am "guilt-tripping" them. What do you think?

Mark Bernstein (not verified) 4 years 5 months ago
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I would wield a scrub brush and a mop with Rev. Renee any day!!

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