Becoming a Member

Parish Membership

Membership in the Episcopal Church is open to any baptized Christian who registers his or her name with us. You can register in any of the following ways:

Filling out a newcomer card and returning it to the parish office

Having the congregation where you were previously a member send us a letter of transfer. A standard form is provided for Episcopal parishes; most other denominations will write a courtesy letter.

Providing basic information for our rolls: your name, date of birth, date and place of baptism.

Note: you may be active in the life of Grace Episcopal Church without being baptized. At some point we hope you will consider baptism and full membership in the Body of Christ.


Learning About Grace Episcopal Church

Adult Forum

Adult Forum at Grace is usually led by the rector. Held roughly every other week from September to May during the Sunday school hours from 9:30 to 10:15 am, the Adult Forum covers a wide range of topics including:

Basics of the Christian faith
Episcopal or Anglican Church tradition
Essentials of worship
Various Bible and church history topics
Science and religion

From time to time, guest speakers will be invited to present particular topics of interest.

Recent books reviewed in Adult Forum include:

They Like Jesus but Not the Church
Going to Hell, Getting Saved and What Jesus Actually Said About It


Affirming Your Faith before the Bishop

Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation

In the Episcopal tradition, a “mature public affirmation” of one’s faith and membership can be expressed in one of three ways described below. When you are ready to take one of these steps, please speak to a member of the clergy.

Confirmation in the Episcopal Church is the rite provided in The Book of Common Prayer for baptized persons who are ready and prepared to make a mature, public affirmation of their faith. In other words, confirmation is a service in which you say on your own behalf what others may have said for you at your baptism. At Grace Episcopal Church we encourage adults interested in confirmation to attend the Adult Forum and to get involved in one of the Christian Formation programs such as Confirm not Conform and Education For Ministry.

Confirmation is held once every other year at Grace Church when the Bishop visits. Confirmation is not required for church membership, but it is a significant, public way to affirm your connection to the church. At Confirmation the Bishop prays that the Lord will “empower you for service and sustain you all the days of your life.”

Reception into the Episcopal Church is for baptized persons who have already made a mature public affirmation of their faith in another denomination. They are presented to the Bishop as part of the Confirmation rite. The Bishop acknowledges their prior status and receives them into the Episcopal Church with the following words, “We recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion.”

The term “catholic” in the Bishop’s acknowledgement above and in the Nicene Creed that we say in our services is not related to the Roman Catholic Church. In the case of “catholic” (lower case letter “c”), the meaning of the original Greek word is simply “universal.” We believe that no Christian denomination has any unique or special claim to Jesus Christ. “One holy catholic and apostolic church” refers to all of Christianity.

Reaffirmation is for Episcopalians who are refreshing or renewing their faith. They will have already been confirmed in the Episcopal Church, but may have only a dim memory of their confirmation. This service is also incorporated in the overall Confirmation rite. In it the Bishop prays that “the Holy Spirit, who has begun a good work in you, may direct and uphold you in the service of Christ and his kingdom.”

 
You are probably a Christian and a member of “the church” already. Anyone who has been baptized is a member. That’s one thing most Christians, worldwide, can agree upon. Membership in the local congregation, which means your name is officially on the rolls, has often been made more mysterious than it should be. These days in the Episcopal Church, you join a local parish by giving your name and the fact (date if known) of your baptism.

But membership as your Christian identity is another thing entirely. What do I really believe? How can I pray? Who is Jesus Christ for me? What do I do with my checkered religious past? How can the church help me live my life? The list goes on.

Welcome to the life of the Christian! It is filled with such questions. And the church is where they are lived out and discussed. As you learn and pray and work at Grace, you may find you want to take another step and make a mature commitment to the faith you have found in the Episcopal Church through Confirmation, Reception, or Reaffirmation before the Bishop. We are glad you are here and we invite you to move at your own pace, stepping forward whenever you are ready. May God bless you in your journey.