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The Requirements of Membership

posted Mar 23, 2009, 2:03 PM by Mike Allen   [ updated Mar 23, 2009, 2:14 PM ]
On Sunday, April 5, we will officially welcome our new members into our Fellowship during a joining service. For many of us – myself included – joining the UUFC was a liberating experience,especially for those of us who came from other faith traditions. Here we found a faith that is reasonable, relational, inclusive, and justice seeking.

Some have the mistaken notion that you can believe anything and be a Unitarian Universalist, which is another way of saying that you don’t have to stand for anything. Nothing could be further from the truth. We may not be creedal, but we are principled, and we gather around seven principles in particular. We affirm and promote:

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  2. Justice, equity, and compassion in human relationships
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

We do not require you to hold certain theological or philosophical beliefs, but we do expect each other to aspire to live by these principles in our individual lives and in our shared community.

We are a principled community and we are a covenantal community, which means we promise to treat each other a certain way. In our Fellowship, we aspire to the promises of our congregational covenant, “The Way We Are with Each Other,” which all of us renew by reciting at each joining service:

  • We will make ours a positive, welcoming environment -- one that includes the diverse perspectives of our spiritual community and builds a sense of connectedness.
  • We will practice direct communication in all facets of UUFC life, using the power of our words to work toward solutions rather than additional problems. We will refrain from spreading hearsay.
  • We will nurture each other’s spiritual and personal growth by entering into conversations and interactions with compassion, deep listening, and respect for differences of opinion without judgment.
  • We will value and express appreciation for each contribution, whether it is time, money or effort.
  • We will acknowledge conflicts, address them openly and honestly, and resolve them as close to their source as possible, using mediation if necessary.
  • We will practice forgiving each other and ourselves.

As individuals and as a congregation, we may fail to uphold these guidelines from time to time, but our covenant gives us a standard to which we hold ourselves and each other accountable when we are not our best selves with each other.

There is one final requirement of membership. We expect each other to contribute our time and financial resources. Inevitably, the question arises, “How much?” To be legalistic, our congregation’s bylaws require that each member contribute “an amount equal to or greater than the annual basic cost of membership,” which is usually a little more than the dues our Fellowship pays for each member to the Thomas Jefferson District and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Our bylaws allow members who are experiencing financial hardship to receive a waiver from this requirement.

However, we hope that you will not be legalistic about your membership with us. To be legalistic would be like trying to put a price tag on community, friendship, acceptance, and support. We hope that your contributions of time and money will reflect your commitment to and appreciation of this Fellowship. As with anything in life, the more we put into it, the more we get out of it. The more of ourselves we invest in this community, the more community we experience.