To be a member of a church is to make a public promise to live according to biblical teachings and to support the mission and ministry of the church. In the Bible, this is called a covenant. Biblically speaking, such covenants are the basis for all of society. Marriage and citizenship, for example, are all relationships of accountability.
Membership in Emmanuel means that you have committed yourself to this family of believers, and that you have agreed to participate fully in the life, ministry, and government of our church. Emmanuel Presbyterian Church belongs to a wider family, that of the Presbyterian Church in America, and members of Emmanuel are members of this body as well. The process of becoming a member of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church looks like this:
1. Complete the Membership Seminar.
This is ordinarily the first step, although it in no way obligates you to membership. The seminar is an all-day long class, offered frequently on Saturdays throughout the year.
2. Complete membership paperwork.
This includes the Membership Profile, Personal Testimony, Membership Questionnaire, and Membership Covenant that are in the back of this manual. Completed paperwork must be received before the week preceding the interview.
3. Sign up for a New Member Interview.
You may sign up for a New Member Interview during the Membership Seminar, or you can contact Kristin Taylor to set up the interview. New Member Interviews are held on a regular basis following each Membership Seminar. Occasionally, alternate New Member Interviews are scheduled for prospective members who are unable to attend one of the regularly scheduled interview times.
4. Meet with an elder for a New Member Interview.
Elders meet with prospective members for about 60 minutes to personally welcome them into the life of the church. The interview is not a test! It’s an informal time for our leadership to get to know you better, hear how you came to be a Christian, learn what God is doing in your life, and answer any questions you might have about the church. In addition to hearing your story of how you became a Christian, the only requirements for membership are assenting to the following membership vows:
i. Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure and without hope except through His sovereign mercy?
ii. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the gospel?
iii. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live a life as becomes a follower of Christ?
iv. Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
v. Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to further its purity and peace?
5. Reception by the Session.
Following the interview, the Session will meet to formally receive new members into the church. Prospective members will not be present for this. New members will be notified by mail within one week that they have been received into membership. At this point, you are officially a member of the church, but there are two more related steps:
6. Reception by the Congregation.
New members needing to be baptized or make public profession of faith will be asked to do so in a Sunday worship service within about 8 weeks of their New Member Interview. The church body as a whole recognizes new members several times each year by printing their names in the bulletin, asking them to come forward for public affirmation of the membership vows, and greeting by the membership.
7. Get Involved in a Community Group
Joining a Community Group is not part of the official membership process, nor is it a requirement. But “joining” means so much more than technically being on the church rolls: it means being part of the lives of others. Community groups are a good place for that to happen, as they help foster fellowship, teaching, member care and communication. Your involvement in one of these groups will not only help you grow spiritually, but will give you many opportunities for service, introduce you to other members of Emmanuel and will be a place for you to experience a relationship with Jesus Christ.