The First Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
Dunbarton, New Hampshire
6 Stark Highway North ▪ Dunbarton, NH ▪ 03046 ▪ 603-774-4601 ▪ www.dccucc.org
What Membership Means
Membership has a long history . . .
In the historic Congregational tradition, church membership is both a right and a privilege. Our 17th century Puritan forebears left England to establish a "purified" or reformed version of the Church of England. They envisioned free, autonomous, self-governing faith communities, entities unto themselves united, not by authority, but by bonds of covenant and commitment.
This structure remains intact today. As part of the present-day United Church of Christ, each congregation is autonomous, self-sustaining and self-governing. We unite with our sister churches in New Hampshire and around the country through formal structures of relationship, not hierarchy. In the UCC, Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, is the head of the church.
In this context, church membership is like citizenship in a democracy; each person's voice is heard and each person's involvement matters. Who we are, what we do, how we fund it, and who leads that effort are all determined by each congregation. UCC churches are transparent in their decisions and actions.
The Journey to Membership . . .
At DCC, we make every effort to honor and respect each individual's journey toward membership. Many of our people come from other faith backgrounds and feel tentative about “joining” a new denomination. Some have never attended a Christian church before. Others left church earlier in their lives and need time to get acquainted with us, test the waters, and get a sense of fit. Finally, there are those who visit, immediately feel at home, and are eager to make a more public affirmation of intent.
We understand each of these scenarios; it is the reason we are patient about membership, why we work hard to embrace both members and "friends" in our hearts and in our bylaws.
So what does membership mean?
At DCC, we liken membership to the difference between living together and getting married. Deciding to become a member of our church is a prayerful act of commitment, one in which you declare before God and the congregation that this faith community is to be your official church home. After years of wandering, you are settling down, taking a vow of service and loyalty to this church in this time and in this place.
As a member of the church, you have voting privileges with regard to church matters. You become a shared "owner in the business." This house of worship becomes your house.
As a self-sustaining organization, we ask that all those involved in our community support us financially through annual pledges. These become the foundation of our annual budget. Members assume this responsibility with a deepened sense of devotion. As a member of DCC, you become part of 224 years of ecclesiastical (church) history. We are still here because generations of members before us cared!
Membership is a spiritual milestone . . .
Above all, church membership is a spiritual milestone. Entering into the daily life and fellowship of a specific congregation signifies an underlying devotion to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the role that commitment will make in your life. From its earliest beginnings, Christianity has been a faith practiced in community. Membership is an expression of appreciation for the richness and blessing of this spiritually communal life.
Joining a church often feels like an act of trust---trust that this relationship will be reliably loving and supportive. Parents entrust us with the spiritual care and education of their children. We could not take any responsibility more seriously. We work to teach Christ's love by embodying that love.
At DCC, we
embrace persons of all faith backgrounds, race, ethnicity, sexual
orientation and gender identity. All are truly welcome here!
While no human institution accomplishes the work of Christ with perfection, our joyful and positive spirit is often cited as the reason why people join. This is a real and intentional part of who we are.
As a member, your faith journey becomes a shared experience. One body, one community, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, learning, growing, and serving in gratitude and grace.What you give is as important as what you gain.
Membership and beliefs . . .
The United Church of Christ is a “non-creedal” church; we do not presume or require that members embrace specific bodies of belief as expressed in the historic Christian creeds (for example, the Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed). All we ask is a sincere desire to study and practice the teachings of Jesus Christ, a commitment to worship regularly as part of our faith community, and a willingness to hold your heart open to the divine action of God's creative and loving spirit in your life. As we say in the UCC, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma: God is still speaking!"
We’re sure you have many more questions about this important step in your faith journey. In addition to browsing our website, please click on the following links for additional information about our sensational church!