Becoming a Member of St. Michael’s
Q: How does one become a member of St. Michael’s?
A: Becoming a member of our parish is actually quite simple. All you have to do is show up for Sunday worship, and register the fact of your baptism with the Parish Office. We consider a baptism to be valid if it that ritual was done with water, in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Q: What if I am not sure I was baptized?
A: In that case, the first thing to do is to check with relatives who may remember when and where you were baptized. If you remember what church your family attended when you were born, you can call or write to them. Most churches keep baptismal information going back for generations. If you
or a relative remember that you were baptized, but cannot supply the date or place, we will accept that “on affirmation”. And if you are simply not sure, we can arrange for what is called “conditional baptism” – a baptism at which the priest will say, “If you have not already been baptized, I now baptize you….”
Q: What if I know that I was never baptized?
A: It is clear from Holy Scripture that the norm in the Early Church was adult baptism. Children and infants were also baptized, but most early converts were adults. Today we think of baptism as something for newborns, but to celebrate this sacrament as an adult is a wonderful gift. You would normally go through a period of preparation under the guidance of the priest, and then would be
baptized at a Sunday service. Please note that “all baptized Christians” are invited to receive Holy Communion. If you have not been baptized, we ask that you wait to receive the bread and wine until you have received the sacrament of Holy Baptism.
Q: Are there “levels” of membership?
A: Yes, but they simply reflect your age and pattern of participation at St. Michael’s. An adult member is someone who has reached the age of 16 years. A communicant is someone who has received Holy Communion at our altar at least three times in the previous twelve months. A communicant-in-good-standing is someone who attends church regularly, and who prays, works and gives for the spread of the kingdom of God. An adult communicant may vote in the Annual Meeting of the parish. An adult communicant-in-good-standing may serve on the Vestry (or governing body)
and may exercise certain ministries that require regular attendance at church.
Q: Does membership require believing in certain things?
A: See “Beliefs” on the sidebar.
Q: Is St. Michael’s a Catholic or a Protestant church?
A: The best answer to that question is that we are both! In matters of worship and doctrine, we Episcopalians have long seen ourselves as a via media (a Latin term for middle way) between the Protestant and Catholic traditions. We speak of being “catholic, yet reformed”, because we have a foot firmly in each tradition. In a very general sense, our style of worship reflects the Catholic tradition, while our theology is a bit more Protestant. Bottom line: We think we partake of the best of both worlds!
Q: What if I’m divorced or remarried?
A: We Episcopalians believe that marriage is a lifelong, exclusive relationship between a man and a
woman. However, we also recognize that sometimes, like people, marriage relationships can die. The canons (church laws) of the Episcopal Church provide guidance for clergy and laity regarding divorce and remarriage. We urge you to sit down with the priest and talk over your situation. Please note, however, that divorce and remarriage do not prevent a person from receiving Holy Communion. If you are a baptized Christian, St. Michael’s welcomes you to join us in receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. Divorced and remarried persons may exercise all the usual lay ministries.