Let’s say that you’ve been coming to UUCW on Sundays for a while — a month or two, perhaps… Or maybe it’s been longer. And now you wonder, “Is there something I need to do to make my relationship with the UUCW community official?”
The answer is YES! You need to sign the Membership Book. That’s how people become official members of UUCW. As Rev. Suzelle said in a sermon recently, “We are not considered Unitarian Universalists by birth or belief, or even by shared practice. We become Unitarian Universalists by the making and living of a freely-chosen adult promise to walk together in love, working to build and sustain the kind of trust that allows each person to fully belong.” Your signature in the Membership Book symbolizes that you have made that promise — it indicates you are in accord with UUCW’s mission and purpose; that you are now “owning” the church in a new way!
Because so many members take the UU Orientation class before they join there’s a rumor out there that you HAVE to take the Orientation before you can sign the Membership Book. But the Membership Committee recently decided to make it more clear that you can join UUCW at any time. When YOU are ready, contact Community Builder Brianna Laux Kocis or Rev. Suzelle Lynch, and they will witness your signature in the Book.
What’s required of members? UUCW invites members to participate regularly in congregational life, which means things like coming to Sunday services, reading the e-news, volunteering to welcome people on Sundays or serve coffee. We also strongly encourage you to get involved in a small group, like a Soul Circle, or book group, or even a committee or team, because that’s the best way to get to know people and make friends at church. Doing these things can also help you learn more about Unitarian Universalism and nurture your personal spirituality.
The one basic requirement of membership is making an annual financial contribution. It’s not a “membership fee” like you pay to join a gym or a club, though. Like your signature in the Membership Book, a financial contribution is part of the promise you make by being a member: that UUCW is now YOUR community. You’re investing a part of your life energy into the community! Members’ financial contributions fund more than 80% of the church’s annual budget — that’s why you’ll be asked to make a pledge of financial support each year (there’s an article about the Annual Pledge Drive in this issue of the West Wind — take a look for more information).
Is volunteering required for membership? Volunteering is not required, but it is strongly encouraged. We believe that all our members and friends have gifts they’d like to develop and use in the service of their core values. Volunteers staff church committees, serve on the Board of Trustees, lead groups, teach adult classes, help plan worship services, help with office work, care for our buildings and grounds, organize social justice programs and actions, and more. Volunteer commitments can be one-time or ongoing. Volunteering can be a way to grow your skills and your spirituality! We encourage you to volunteer not only because it helps UUCW, but also because we know that when we give our time to a community, we receive more from that community.
Do I have to become a member to participate at UUCW? Nope. If you are not ready to join, it is all right to enjoy what UUCW offers, to volunteer, and to contribute financially. There are tangible benefits for members, though. Members can have access to free services from our ministers, gain free and reduced-fee use of the building for important life events, and are given the authority to serve in elected leadership positions at UUCW. Membership brings intangible benefits, as well — the knowledge that you have made an important commitment to yourself, and your spiritual growth by joining a community that has made powerful commitments to racial and social justice, equity, compassion, religious diversity and freedom, and the earth.