Some Thoughts On Church Membership

Sanctuary of the First Congregational Church
Sanctuary of the First Congregational Church

A church is unique

Among the many organizations we can join, a church is unique.
It is the only group that has religion as its only reason for existence.
Being a church member implies being involved in the adoration and service of God.  For some church members that may seem too short and too simple a description of what their church is all about.  In that light we see the uniqueness of the church as an organization, and the truly profound meaning of being a member of the church.

The Congregational Way

The ways in which churches seek to carry out their unique purpose are many and varied.  The First Congregational Church as indicated by its name, uses the congregational approach, which was brought to this country by the Pilgrims in 1620.  Congregationalism emphasizes the vital role of the local congregation.  There is no diocese, presbytery, or any other ecclesiastical government in the Congregational church.  Rather, the people in the local church – the congregation – make a covenant with each other to worship and serve God.  Such a church is not defined by a binding creed, but by a statement of faith.  (See the United Church of Christ statement of faith.)

Our relation to other churches

Our congregation has a strong tradition of ecumenical and interfaith participation.  We are active members of the United Church of Christ in both the Susquehanna Association and New York Conference.  Annual contributions to the New York Conference support both the national setting and world wide mission.  In addition to membership in the Broome County Council of Churches, we join with and provide facilities to other Christian and interfaith activities.

Our Christian heritage

We have a deep respect for our heritage.  Our roots go beyond the Pilgrims, back through the Reformation, back through the Middle Ages and the early centuries to Palestine, and so even to the dimly outlined figure of Abraham in the dawn of history.  We cherish those traditions for the insight they provide and as the foundation on which we build.  We respect honest scholarship and learn from the light it sheds on the scriptural sources of our belief and practice.

Faith and life

Our statement of faith affirms that we are called into the church to be God’s servants to humanity and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.  For us the Christian faith is not simply a doctrine to be accepted, but a life to be lived. John Robinson, pastor to the Pilgrims, counseled them as they set sail for America, “The Lord has more truth and light yet to break forth out of His Holy Word.” Perhaps it is that anticipation, the opportunity for growth into something better than ever, that makes membership in the First Congregational Church so valuable to us. We invite everyone who wishes to join us and to share in this fellowship.

GOD IS STILL SPEAKING!