Revised Proposal on Membership Procedure
from Betsy Peterson, Chair of Parish Council.
There is a new proposal for amending the bylaw on membership, developed in response to concerns heard at the Listening Sessions on proposed amendments to our by-laws. The Vestry and the Council both met last week, and endorsed a revised proposal to amend Article III, Membership. That is the bylaw describing the process for joining King's Chapel (formally, becoming a member of the Society of King's Chapel). The proposed bylaw would amend the first section of Article III to read as follows (new text in bold):
"Any person sixteen (16) years of age or older may be admitted to membership in the Society who (1) shall have given notice to the Committee on Membership of his or her desire to become a member by attending worship and events at King’s Chapel for at least three (3) months prior to admittance, discussing membership with the minister or members of the Committee on Membership, and attending a meeting to discuss the history, governance, and worship of King’s Chapel. 2) shall have been recommended for membership by the Committee on Membership in consultation with the Minister, and (3) shall subscribe publicly to the Covenant of the Society, all in accordance with procedures established by the Wardens and Vestry.
The Minister may waive the foregoing requirements in case of emergency, such waiver to be subject to ratification by the Committee on Membership."
In the current bylaw, that first clause says "1) shall have given written notice to the Committee on Membership of his or her desire to become a member at least three (3) months prior to admittance". The review committee initially suggested dropping the three-month written notice. That procedure, in today's context, sounds like a club that wants to remain exclusive, not a welcoming church, and puts a distracting focus on precise timing.
Members expressed concerns about dropping that waiting period. Joining a church is a serious decision. Some note the possibility that a group could take over the church by joining just before a critical membership vote, although the recommendation of the Membership Committee and the Minister would still be required.
The revised proposal responds to those concerns. It maintains the waiting period, but emphasizes the actions leading to membership. It reflects our current practice. The Membership Committee invites people to a welcome dinner, classes, and the welcoming ceremony that we offer twice a year. It also reflects our experience, that most new members have participated at King’s Chapel for more than three months before joining.