What does it mean to be a member of First Parish in Bedford?
Friends and visitors are always welcome at First Parish in Bedford and may participate in all aspects of congregational life, including Sunday services, small groups, classes, special events, ministry teams and financial support of the parish. Becoming a member of the congregation, though, is an important step. It may be a way of expressing that you have found your spiritual home here, a way of deepening your commitment, a way of making a public statement about your beliefs, or it may be all these things.
However, there are a few specific benefits available only to Members. These include:
- The right to vote at congregational meetings
- Reduced rates for renting our facilities
- No minister’s fee for rites of passage (weddings, memorial services, and child dedications)
- Access to scholarship funds for training and conferences
- Eligibility for serving on the Parish Board, the Social Responsibility Council or the Nominating Committee.
When you become a member of First Parish you enter a covenant, or special set of agreements, with the congregation. You also join us in our mission of spiritual growth, caring for each other and the community, seeking truth and acting for justice.
A great way to connect with parishioners is to join one of the many committees that keep this fellowship relevant – social action, climate justice, diversity and inclusion, choir and music, and others. And you will find members pitch in to take care of the nuts and bolts – adding your talents to fundraising, making coffee, teaching in faith development, running a worship service, ushering on Sunday. Like most volunteer organizations, you get out of membership what you put in.
We are entirely self-sustaining and rely on the financial support of our congregation to maintain our historic building, pay our staff fair compensation (which is published by the Unitarian Universalist Association), and offer high quality programs. Every year during our annual stewardship campaign, members are asked to make a pledge, a financial commitment for ongoing expenses. That pledge can be paid over the course of the next year or in one installment, whatever works best. Members are asked to be generous in the context of their circumstances.
Our congregation is run democratically and ideally our members stay involved and informed, offering feedback and voting at our congregational meetings when it’s time to make decisions. Email notices and our newsletter are great ways to stay informed. When it comes time for the Annual or Semi-Annual meeting, or any other special occasion needing congregational input, it is the members who show up and make important decisions.
In summary, all are welcome regardless of membership status. Members have the right to vote as well as other privileges and are expected to engage, volunteer, donate, and participate in decision making.
HOW TO BECOME A MEMBER
To become a member of First Parish, we ask that you:
- Attend one or both of our orientation sessions, as fits your experience.
- Consider the responsibilities of membership and decide whether you can commit to them.
- Sign the Membership Book. The final step in becoming a member is signing the Membership Book. Our church By-Laws specify that any person over the age of sixteen (16) years of age may become a member of the Parish by signing the Parish Record (our Membership book). To sign the Membership Book contact a minister or someone on the Membership Committee.