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Membership and Baptism

All are welcome at Northminster, and many attend worship regularly without becoming members. Non-members also participate in the mission and fellowship activities of Northminster. We are glad they do! Membership is a next step for those who want to make a significant commitment to God through the Church.

In today’s culture many ask: “Why should I join a church? What difference does it make?” We understand membership at three distinct levels. First, there is a symbolic value in membership as a person chooses to be incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church. It is a specific and visible action that signifies a commitment to God. Membership expresses and symbolizes a personal faith. Second, membership represents a formal connection to others in a community of faith. Every human group or organization establishes boundaries and processes for inclusion. For the Church this formal connection designates that, in our belonging to Jesus Christ, we also belong to one another. We seek to abide in Christ and with each other in ways that glorify God. Third, the practical layer of membership recognizes that only those who have made such a commitment may participate in the decision-making and leadership of the congregation. Only members can vote on the call of a pastor or the election of other leaders. Only members can serve as officers.

Some choose to become members at Northminster after only a few weeks of attendance. Some attend for years before making such a commitment. One person worshiped regularly for more than twenty years prior to becoming a member. No one correct pattern predominates or is expected. But for those who’d like to consider membership, or at least more active involvement, Northminster offers a NEXT STEP class about four times a year. The dates are publicized well in advance, or you can call the Church Office for more information.

Baptism is one of two sacraments (along with Communion) in our Presbyterian tradition. Baptism is a sign and seal of our belonging to God. As such it normally precedes membership, although we have welcomed new members and baptized them at the same time. Presbyterians through the centuries have favored baptism for infants, as a reminder that God’s love for them is offered and secure even before they can do anything to help themselves. In the baptism of children, the emphasis is on God’s grace-filled initiative, not upon our human response or commitment. When infants are baptized, their parents and the congregation make promises on their behalf, promises that the ones baptized can affirm when they are old enough. We refer to this as Confirmation as the students confirm their own faith. While this pattern is most common, infant baptism is not mandated. That decision is left to each family. Almost every year as we confirm a group of middle school students as new church members, one or more students in the class are also baptized. We believe that once a person is baptized (whether by sprinkling , pouring, or immersion) there is no need to be baptized again, even if you come to Northminster from a different Christian tradition. However, we periodically have Sunday services in which members can renew their baptismal vows. For more information or to get an application for baptism, please contact the Church Office (931-0243)