There are two paths to membership in All Souls Church. For folks who have been UU members in other congregations the path is shorter, as we assume they know about the principles, history, and governance of UU congregations and only need information about our specific congregation. They will “sign the book” which is the formal declaration of membership and make a pledge to support the church and the process is almost complete. Kathy Squires, chair of the Membership Committee arranges for a time to introduce them to the minister and the very old membership book is produced for signing. At a Sunday service their acceptance as a voting member of the church is noted and in the church directory an asterisk is added to their name, denoting official membership.
For those who may have come from another faith or no faith, the process involves a chance to learn the basics, especially by looking at the foundation documents of our congregation, covenants and our Unitarian and Universalist Seven Principles: https://www.ascvt.org/learning/our-beliefs/uu-principles-and-sources/. This often happens by meeting in a small group with representatives of the membership committee, and is usually followed by a chance to ” meet the minister” and to ask questions. There will probably be a social event too, and if all has gone well, Kathy Squires can then arrange for “signing the book.” Not much of a ritual compared to many groups. Even in these pandemic times we are having virtual signings.
What is perhaps most unique about UU membership is the lack of a creed which members agree to follow. A “ faith” which began as Christian and which split from other Christian groups over matters of doctrine, beginning with the notion of a Trinity, and the belief that a loving God accepts everyone no matter what their outer labels, UU congregations now include people with many belief systems, including atheists and agnostics. UUs join together through a covenant … a promise to live according to the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism and the special covenants adopted by individual congregations. For example, All Souls has a Covenant of Right Relations which sets out goals for how we work in community. The Mission Statement is an overview of what we as a church consider our main purposes.These documents are reviewed periodically to make sure that they are still appropriate for our congregation, which is run under democratic principles.
Voting Member defined: The voting members of this Church shall be those persons who have reached the age of eighteen, signed the Membership Roll at least 30 days prior to an officially called congregational meeting and have made an identifiable monetary, in kind or service contribution to the operating budget during the previous 12 months.