Activity time: 35 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Leader Resource 2, The Historical Parade of Membership
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Your congregation's bylaws that apply to membership
- Materials describing membership at your congregation
- Words your congregation uses to welcome new members
- Timepiece (minutes)
- Optional: Computer and digital projector
Preparation for Activity
- Print out Leader Resource 2, The Historical Parade of Membership and familiarize yourself with its contents.
- Obtain a copy of your congregation's bylaws concerning membership. Make copies for a small group.
- Contact the chair of the committee in your congregation that deals with membership and request any materials that describe the process, requirements, benefits, and/or responsibilities of becoming a member of your congregation. Make copies for a small group.
- Ask your minister for a copy of the words used to welcome new members to your congregation. Make copies for a small group.
- Write on newsprint, and post:
In joining a liberal church or religious society one joins both an organization and a tradition. The organization depends on the loyalty and participation of its members. The tradition includes faiths, guidelines, and customs answering to basic human needs-a consensus expressed in words from time to time but not imposed on anyone as a test for membership. - from Vincent Silliman, Arthur Foote, and Christopher Gist Raible, "A Selection of Services for Special Occasions," Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, 1981
- Optional: Download the quotation and prepare it as a digital slide. Test the computer and projector.
Description of Activity
Share the contents of Leader Resource 2, The Historical Parade of Membership.
Invite participants to form three groups. Give one group copies of your congregation's bylaws concerning membership, another group copies of materials from your membership committee, and the third group words used to welcome new members to your congregation. Note: If you do not have materials from the membership committee or the minister, have all the groups focus on the bylaws.
Give groups five minutes to review the distributed materials.
Now call everyone's attention to the quotation you have posted. Invite each group to use the congregational materials they have been reviewing and the information you shared from Leader Resource 2, The Historical Parade of Membership, to identify ways people joining your congregation might sense they are joining "an organization" and ways might they understand that they are joining "a tradition." Allow groups to work together for ten minutes.
Invite small groups to report their findings to the larger group.
Ask, "What is missing from your congregation's membership requirements and protocols?"