Membership in the Unitarian Church of Sharon is open to anyone who agrees with our principles and purpose as a Unitarian Universalist congregation, and formally informs the church leadership of his or her intention to join.
Membership in this congregation is an acknowledgement that our lives are lived in a context larger than our individual interests, and that there is holiness to be found both within ourselves and within our community. In light of this, membership is an agreement with others that we will treat each other with respect and kindness, and that we will openly acknowledge and manage our differences in respectful, democratic ways. Membership is a recognition that we each continue to grow and change intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually over the course of our lifetime. Therefore membership also means, to borrow words from Gandhi, that we agree “to be the change we want to see in the world.”
Learning about Unitarian Universalism
Before becoming a member, we encourage you to learn about Unitarian Universalism in any of several ways:
- by becoming acquainted with our current members at coffee hour and other events;
- by participating in our “Introduction to Unitarian Universalism” class, a description of which follows this article below, and;
- by reading about Unitarian Universalism.
We also encourage you to regularly attend Sunday services (in whatever way is manageable for you and your family); to become involved in a congregational activity that provides service to the church or the larger community; and to participate in a fellowship or educational event. Only members are eligible to vote at official church meetings. We encourage everyone, friend or member, to become informed by reading the newsletter and by attending informational meetings before entering into membership.
Becoming a Member
To become a member, speak to a person on the Membership Committee or to Rev. Jim Robinson. Our two-session “Introduction to Unitarian Universalism” class is usually offered in early fall and late winter. New Members are voted into membership by the Board of Trustees at a regular monthly meeting and are welcomed in a ceremony during a church service, held periodically throughout the year. (Participation in the ceremony is encouraged, but not required).
After they join, new members are asked to pledge a financial contribution to the congregation, as they are able. In late spring, we have a celebration for everyone who has joined the congregation during the year.
During services, there is a collection to support the work of the church as well as a specific social justice agency, selected by the Social Justice Committee. All contributions are voluntary and greatly appreciated.
We are aware that being a Welcoming Congregation is an ongoing process and requires continued attention. The Welcoming Congregation Committee has set the following goals:
- Ongoing education of our congregation — through workshops, film series, book groups, services (“Rainbow Sunday”) and other events aimed to sustain our level of awareness and deepen our understanding of important issues regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Outreach to the community — we want everyone in the GLBT community to know that Unitarian Universalism as a movement and the Unitarian Church of Sharon in particular are welcoming and affirming of everyone regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. We celebrate the gifts that members of the GLBT community bring to our congregation.
- Social action — we are committed to equality in our congregation, community, state and beyond. We want to maintain the rights that have been won, equality in marriage in particular, and to struggle to expand those rights until GLBT folks enjoy full legal equality with heterosexuals.
There are many ways to achieve these goals and always more work to be done. We are always happy to accept offers of assistance, ideas and feedback on what we’ve done.
Introduction to UU
The church offers prospective members an opportunity to learn more about our congregation and its guiding principles in an informal session that we have dubbed “UU 101,” typically held on a Saturday once or twice a year, starting at 9 a.m. and ending before noon. The gathering’s first order of business is a warm-up session of food and conversation, with a light brunch hosted by the Membership Committee. The minister then provides an overview of Unitarian Universalism and where the Sharon congregation fits into its religious traditions. This is followed by a general discussion about our church, led off by members offering some details of their personal spiritual paths and what led them here. Newcomers are invited to share their stories, and what they are seeking in a spiritual community.
The committee then explains the process of joining the Unitarian Church of Sharon, and what membership entails.
The program wraps up with a question-and-answer session for visitors to raise any remaining issues.