Become A Member
All are welcome to attend and explore the many services, classes, programs offered at the Episcopal Church of the Advent. Exploring membership is encouraged, however, it is not a requirement. If you are interested in learning more about membership or are curious about the process of becoming a member, please read the following information below.
Being a member of the Advent requires a commitment to support and participate in our mission and ministries. It is also expected that members are dedicated to living out their faith as outlined in the Baptismal Covenant. The requirements for membership at the Advent (or any Episcopal Church), are found in the Canons of the Episcopal Church: Title I, Canon 17, sections 1-6.
Depending on one’s background, some of the terminology used in the Canons to describe membership may sound mysterious and technical. A description of the process for becoming a member using less “canonical” language follows.
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) states that “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church” (p. 298). By being baptized in an Episcopal Church, or another Christian denomination or tradition, and by registering this information in our records, you are eligible to become a baptized member here. Please note that the Episcopal Church does not “rebaptize” those who have been baptized in other Christian traditions. If you can’t locate your baptismal certificate or are uncertain whether or not you have been baptized, please be sure to discuss this with a member of the clergy.
The strength and quality of our common life are increased substantially when all members participate as fully as possible. As mentioned above, it is expected that members will attend Worship services regularly. Participation in Christian Formation offerings (Sunday School and/or other classes), Outreach ministries, Parish Life Events, Year-Round Stewardship opportunities, Parish Management related activities, and other offerings as you are interested and able is also an expectation. Practicing generosity in financial stewardship in support of our overall mission and ministries of the Advent is a duty and honor for all members.
We are further strengthened when all members become Members in Good Standing. This next step is described below.
It is hoped that throughout their lives, all members of Advent will seek to increase their knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith, the Episcopal Church, and ways to become more “mature disciples”. One way to do this is by participating in the process of Christian Formation to become a Member in Good Standing which culminates in being Confirmed or Received.
Participation in some of the ministries at the Episcopal Church of the Advent requires the following:
- A person has been baptized and is 16 years of age;
- Has completed a New Membership Class through the Advent, often called an Enquirer’s Class or a Confirmation Class.
- After having completed the New Membership Class, has then been prepared “to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop,” called Confirmation or Reception (BCP, p. 412);
- Has made an annual financial pledge to the Advent or is otherwise known to the Treasurer by generously contributing financially in support of our mission and ministries.
After being Confirmed or Received, a person is now considered to be a Member of Good Standing. If interested, he/she may serve as a Eucharistic Minister, stand for election to the Vestry, represent the Advent in diocesan functions and ministries, e.g., a delegate to Diocesan Convention, a member of a Diocesan ministry, a Deputy to General Convention, and other ministries. Members in Good Standing are also eligible to vote at the Annual Parish Meeting and other prescribed activities.
If you’re interested in learning more about membership, please contact the Director of Membership & Parish Life or a member of the Clergy. We appreciate your prayerful consideration of this commitment. Whether or not you’re interested in becoming a member, we look forward to welcoming you into this vibrant Christian community and getting to know you better.
Membership in the Episcopal Church begins with the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. A helpful description of this rite can be found on page 298 of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP).
Baptism is the act of being immersed in or having water poured over one’s head while these words are spoken, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (BCP, p. 307).
A priest stands at the baptismal font across from the candidate and his/her sponsors, and says these words describing the symbolic meaning and role of water in this ancient rite: “In it, we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit” (BCP, p. 306).
In Baptism, an adult, youth, or infant is immersed or sprinkled with water and is then anointed with oil on the forehead. During the anointing, these moving words are spoken by the priest to the newly baptized, “Name, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever” (BCP, p. 308).
If you have not been baptized (or aren’t sure if you have been baptized), and are interested in learning more, please contact the Executive Assistant to the Rector.
Confirmation is one of the Sacraments that evolved in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), Confirmation is described in the following words:
In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop.
Those baptized as adults, unless baptized with laying on of hands by a bishop, are also expected to make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism in the presence of a bishop and to receive the laying on of hands. (BCP, p. 412)
This is the formal way the Episcopal Church welcomes those who have been confirmed in another Christian tradition/denomination. Reception is also used to welcome those adults who have come to the Episcopal Church from a Christian tradition/denomination that does not practice Confirmation. As stated above, a candidate for Reception is someone who has already been baptized and who has made a mature public affirmation of faith but has not received the laying on of hands by the bishop.
Reaffirmation Of Baptismal Vows
This is a rite found in the same liturgy used for Confirmation and Reception. The following is an interpretation of the description found on the Episcopal Church’s glossary website for Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows.
The BCP refers to persons who have already been baptized and who desire to reaffirm their baptismal vows. These individuals are most often presented to the bishop in the context of a service of Baptism or Confirmation. They might be persons returning to the Church after a period of unbelief or those who have discovered a deeper understanding of their faith or those who have a desire to recommit themselves to the vows made at their baptism (or made on their behalf if baptized at a young age). The BCP provides a prayer to be used by the bishop in addition to those said for Confirmation and Reception candidates (419).
Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation typically take place during the annual visit by the Diocesan Bishop (or another bishop acting on his/her behalf). If you are interested in Confirmation, Reception, or Reaffirmation, or would like to learn more, then plan to participate in a New Membership Class through the Advent (often called an Enquirer’s Class or a Confirmation Class). For younger members, Confirmation classes are offered each year for rising high school sophomores and juniors. Please speak to the Director of Membership & Parish Life about arranging for Confirmation or Reception.
Members in all Episcopal churches are customarily recorded in that church’s Parish Register. If you are interested in moving your membership from another Episcopal church, please speak to the Director of Membership & Parish Life to arrange for a certificate of membership transfer to be sent from your prior parish to the Advent. If you are currently a member of a denomination or church other than an Episcopal church, the process is virtually the same. Again, please contact the Director of Membership & Parish Life. A member of the clergy would also be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Members of the Episcopal Church of the Advent who have been faithful in corporate worship (having received Holy Communion at least three times during the preceding year), and in working, praying, and giving of financial and other resources for the spread of the Kingdom of God are considered “Communicants” or “Communicants in Good Standing.”