don't join a church, join a family
SO YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT BECOMING PART OF OUR FAMILY?
Good! We are very happy that you are considering making Thomasville United Methodist Church your church family! We were hoping you would feel at home here!
This decision is important for you and for us. If you are ready for family membership, here’s what you need to do:
First, contact the pastor (334-636-4654) to arrange a brief meeting to discuss and determine how you will join. In the United Methodist Church you can become a member in 3 ways:
· Profession of Faith - If you have never been baptized, you can become a member by public baptism and profession of faith in Jesus Christ;
· Confirmation –If you have been baptized, but have never joined a church or can’t remember being a member of a local church, you can become a member by affirming your baptismal vows and by taking church membership vows;
· Transfer of present church membership (both UMC or other denomination) by reaffirming your faith in Christ and by renewing your membership vows (UMC transfers) or by taking UMC membership vows.
Second, at some point, just before joining, you will have several counseling/teaching sessions with the pastor to help you understand these vows and their meanings. Youth considering church membership will meet with the Youth Director, as well!
Third, you, along with the pastor, will decide which Sunday you will unite with congregation. Arrangements for baptism will be made at this time, as well.
baptismal and church vows
Baptismal vows are the public expression of our intent to enter into a living lifetime relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In taking these vows, we publicly declare our intent to follow Jesus as his disciple, living our lives according to the principles of the Kingdom of God.
In our baptismal vows we are asked:
1. Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
2. Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
3. Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
Our membership vows are the public declaration of our intent to live into our discipleship. In taking these vows, we promise to serve not the Church, but Christ through his Church. Our membership vows are:
1. As members of Christ’s universal Church, will you be loyal to Christ through The United Methodist Church, and do all in your power to strengthen its ministries?
2. Will you participate in the ministries of this church with your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness?
During the sessions with the pastor, he will explain the meaning of these vows and answer any questions you may have.
BAPTISM IN THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
In our United Methodist tradition, baptism is considered a sacrament, a “sacred moment” in which God both shows and bestows His grace upon those being baptized. Because God is the one primarily working during the act of baptism, it is not necessary for it to be repeated. We do not re-baptize in the UMC, nor do we conduct private baptisms, since a public profession of faith is part of that rite. We do, however, offer o-pportunities to renew baptismal vows, as requested by individuals or planned by the pastor.
In the UMC, we baptize infants and young children. The New Testament speaks of household baptism, which we believe included children. Moreover, we find no explicit or implied Biblical prohibition against it. Because we believe baptism is a sacrament, we believe infant baptism is real baptism wherein baptized parents, in faith, claim their children for God. We believe that he marks them as recipients of his grace, which one day they will choose to accept for themselves and assume the vows their parents take on their behalf.
In the UMC, we offer baptism in three modes:
- Aspersion, or sprinkling.
-Affusion, or pouring.
-Immersion, or dipping
All three modes are acceptable. Baptism done in any Christian church is acceptable which used the triune formula: “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Youth who wish to become full members of the church family typically complete a Confirmation Class. This class, taught by the Pastor and the Youth Director, covers the basic beliefs of Christianity and the distinctive practices and beliefs of the Wesleyan Tradition and the United Methodist Church. The class is usually taught when at least three youth are ready for family membership. If you are a youth wanting to join the family, please contact the Pastor of the Youth Director.
CHURCH family MEMBERSHIP FAQs
Q: Why should I become a church member?
A: Because you are one, already. If you have professed faith in Christ, you are a member of the Church Universal. Uniting with a local body is a visible sign of that reality.
Q: Can’t I be a Christian without holding membership in a local church?
A: Yes, you can. Becoming a Christian believer only requires a trusting faith in Jesus Christ. However, once we become believers, Jesus calls us to become disciples, to follow him. Uniting with a local congregation is the most practical way to live into our discipleship.
Q: Why should I become part of a denomination?
A: No one denomination is perfect, no one denomination has all the answers, including those who label themselves “non-denominational.” The real issue is this: Do you believe God is leading you to actively participate with this particular local body?
Q: Do you have to be baptized to join the church? The thief on the cross was not baptized.
A: True, the thief on the cross was not baptized, but that is not the normative scenario for most people. We were created to live in community with God and with others. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said that there are no such things as “Holy Solitaries.” He preached “social holiness,” which means that we are mystically and practically connected to each other.
Yes, you must be baptized, because baptism is the mark of Christian discipleship. In a sense it is the “uniform of the church.” St. Jerome said, “Baptism is the ordination of the laity.”
Q: Why do you make church membership such a big deal?
A: Because, frankly, it IS a big deal.