What if I belong to a church in another denomination?
When you join Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church, you become a member of The United Methodist Church – a denomination that stretches around the world, and transforms lives every day. In order to join most churches, including VHUMC, it is necessary to be baptized (either previously in your life or at the time you join). The United Methodist Church recognizes any baptism, received at any age, in any Christian denomination, as valid. Once baptized, any person may join The United Methodist Church.
If you have never been baptized you will join the church through “Profession of Faith.” Before you take the vows of membership, you will be asked the following questions:
- Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of you sin? I do.
- Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever form they present themselves? I do.
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? I do.
You will then be asked to join The United Methodist Church:
- 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? I will.
This question is also the first question asked to someone joining The United Methodist Church from a different Christian denomination.
Everyone joining VHUMC will be asked:
As a member of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness? I will.
What are you Vowing?
Throughout the gospels, Jesus models and instructs his disciples about how to pray. The New Testament offers many examples and instruction on prayer (see Matthew 6:5-13 and James 5:13-18). By praying with and for our congregation, we draw closer to our fellow believers and to Christ. Our promise to support the church by our “prayers” is a part of the practice of making our church a place of “passionate worship.” We are promising to pray for our church, its leaders, and its mission. Through this we demonstrate that we want our church to be a place of passionate, heart-felt worship and community.
Being present at church is important – being with other Christians, making connections that support us as we seek to follow Christ. When we promise to support our church by our “presence” that is also part of our effort to offer “Radical Hospitality” to all persons. My promise of “presence” is not fulfilled just by my showing up at the church; no I am promising to make our church a place where everyone’s presence is invited, expected, and welcomed.
1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that each of us have been given unique gifts from God, meant to be used for the good of the community of faith. Each of us possesses talents, abilities, and personality traits that are important for the Body
of Christ! In community, we are meant to discover our gifts, affirm those gifts in each other, and find the best use for our gifts, as we offer them to God. Our promise to support the church by our “gifts” is also about the Biblical expectation of giving of our financial resources to support the work of God in the world. Our promise to support the church with our gifts helps us move to an expectation that our church will have the ability to be extravagantly generous in mission and ministry.
We put our gifts to work by living a life of Christian service. We serve our congregation and together, we serve beyond our congregation. Our service points to the example of Christ and bears testimony to God’s work in our lives. Each of us, regardless of age or gift, can serve in some way. When we promise to support our church by our “service” we are moving our church forward in risk-taking mission and service. It is serving on a committee, team or task force, and it is taking the opportunity to help our church serve beyond its walls.
Our witness brings together all these expressions of faith. When we use our prayers, presence, and gifts in service of God, we act as witnesses to God’s redeeming love through Christ and as examples of how to live a life of Christian discipleship. Also, to support our church by our “witness” is about engaging in intentional faith development. For us to be good witnesses – sharing our faith with another person, a community or our world – we must take seriously our faith development, and invite other to develop a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.