Becoming a Member
Holy Comforter matters – to its members, to the city of Charlotte, and to the Episcopal Church – and YOU matter to Holy Comforter.
Once you have had a chance to get to know us and have chosen to make this your church home, it is our hope that everyone in your household will become active members of our faith community. Here are some frequently asked questions about membership at Holy Comforter.
Q. What does membership mean?
A. Joining a church is unlike joining any other organization. That is because a church is unlike any other organization—club, non-profit or company. In the earliest days of the Christian faith, St. Paul described being a member of the church as being a member of a much larger body—a body of believers which Christ himself called to life. Just like your physical body, no one part of the church is superior to, or without need of, the others. All parts are important if the whole body is to be healthy and whole. Unlike other organizations, where members might come and go without notice, members of a church rely upon and care for each other. We need each other. Without each other, there is no Holy Comforter.
Hence joining a church is more like starting a relationship. We have expectations of our church, and our church—the body of fellow members—rightly has expectations of us. At Holy Comforter, we often say that there are four basic expectations of active membership: (1) our regular attendance at worship; (2) our annual financial pledge; (3) our daily prayers for others and ourselves; and (4) our engagement in one or more ministries of the parish.
Q. What does it take to become a member?
A. The first step is filling out our Newcomer Information Form, and returning it to our Membership Coordinator, Jessica Dunlap. In addition to basics like name, address, etc. you will be asked for the name of your former church and where you were baptized and/or confirmed. Jessica will then request a transfer from your prior church.
Q. What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is the beginning or initiation of a new life in Christ. In baptism, you become a member of the Body of Christ. When you are baptized in an Episcopal church, you become a member of that particular congregation – until death or until you transfer your records to another congregation. The sacrament is often administered to infants and children, although some people are not baptized until they are older.
Q. Do I need to be a “baptized Episcopalian” to become a member?
A. We are baptized into the Body of Christ (rather than any particular denomination). So as long as you have been baptized with water in the name of the Trinity you are already a member of the universal Body of Christ and don’t need to be re-baptized.
Q. What if I haven’t been baptized at all?
A. If you haven’t been baptized, reach out to Jessica Dunlap and she’ll put you in touch with a member of our clergy.
Q. What is confirmation, and do I need to be confirmed?
A. In confirmation, “we express a mature commitment to Christ and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a Bishop.” (BCP 680). All baptized members are encouraged to pursue confirmation, either when they reach maturity or in connection with their baptism if they are baptized as adults. We typically have confirmations once a year – during our bishop’s annual visit that typically occurs around May or June – and offer classes to prepare for this commitment and sacramental rite.
Q. What if I was confirmed in another faith tradition?
A. If you have been confirmed by a bishop in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or other churches observing the apostolic succession of bishops, you do not need to be reconfirmed. Many choose to be received, during which you take instruction on the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church along with candidates for confirmation and then are received by the bishop as a confirmed member of this church.
Q. Are there different categories of membership?
A. Yes, there are two categories of membership that the Episcopal Church traditionally has:
An active, baptized member who takes communion at least 3 times a year, is counted as a communicant. (This is a minimal standard set years ago when communion was celebrated less frequently.)
A baptized, confirmed communicant in good standing (BCC) is someone who, during the previous year, “has been faithful in attending corporate worship and in praying, working and giving (pledging a financial offering) for the spread of the kingdom of God. “ You are required to be a BCC to vote at the annual meeting, and to serve on Vestry or other elected positions.
When you are ready, click this link to download our Newcomer Information Form, which contains vital information we need to reach you and transfer your membership to our church.