Visiting UUSMV/Path to Membership
You are welcome here! Whether you are a long time Island resident, just visiting the Island, an out of town UU, or someone seeking a church community – you are welcome at this congregation. We are community of individuals with diverse backgrounds. Members of the congregation include humanists, agnostics, atheists, theists, Buddhists, Christians, and celebrators of earth based religions. All are welcome here.
What should I wear? Like the Island, UUSMV is relaxed and has a relaxed attitude towards attire. Here you will find people who “dress” for church and many who are wearing casual clothing.
When should I arrive? It is best to arrive about 15 minutes before service. This will give you time to stop at our Welcome Table to get a name tag and an order of service. Services are at 11:00 am.
Where do I park and enter the church? We do not have a parking lot. You may park on the chapel side of the street. Please take care not to block any of our neighbor’s drive ways. You may enter through our double red doors or use the ramp to the left of the entrance which will also take you to our chapel foyer.
What happens after I walk in? A greeter will welcome you as you enter. The greeter will give you an order of service and direct you to the Welcome Table where you can get a name tag. They will give you a Visitor Packet that has information about UUSMV and they will also give you a chance to give us some information about yourself. You may also ask the greeter to point out our information brochure rack. It will have more information about this congregation as well as the Unitarian Universalist faith.
What are services like? You may sit anywhere you like in the worship space. Towards the beginning of the service, one of the worship leaders will ask if anyone is a visitor. If you are comfortable, you may choose to stand and give your name and where you are from. The service normally consists of opening words, several hymns, some instrumental music, two or more readings, a sermon, and an offering. After services we push forward a few pews to make room for our social time. We invite you to stay for some refreshments and to meet and talk with others.
What about my children? If you have children with you, they are welcome to visit our elementary class that takes place during the service. Let the Welcome Table host know if you would like your child(ren) to go to the UU Explorers class. The host will introduce you to the RE Coordinator and ask you to complete a UU Explorers Guest form. The children start in the service and leave with their leaders about 15 minutes after the start of the service. Of course your children may sit with you in the services if they choose. Our middle school youth have their program before the service. If you have middle school children, we will introduce you our RE Coordinator so you can discuss the program during the social time.
Will someone try to pressure me to join or convert? While Unitarians Universalist are very open to others joining our faith and congregation, you will not be pressured to join. We will be welcoming and invite you to join in with some of our activities and will introduce you to others. We hope that you will feel comfortable here but we know that the process and decision to join a congregation takes time.
The Path to Membership
You are welcome to participate in nearly all activities of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard (UUSMV) without becoming a member. When you begin to feel this is your church community, you’ll want to help it be the best it can be. You’ve started on the path to Membership! There’s no set timetable — you set the pace as you move through these steps toward making your own personal commitment to support your church and help shape its future.
Your first visit: Trying a new church can be daunting, but you get a warm welcome here. After the service you stay for social hour. You get a visitor information packet, meet a few people and decide you’ll come back.
Your name tag: Within a few visits you sign up for a name tag that is at the Welcome Table the next time you come. Now people greet you by name and begin to remember you.
Offerings: You contribute something as the offering basket goes by.
You’re a regular and you are becoming more involved: Coming to church regularly, you find friends with the same interests. A member of the church introduces you to others and suggests activities you might enjoy. You join a social activity like a potluck or you lend a helping hand. You join an adult program, the Women’s or Men’s group, or a circle supper. If you have young children, they’re making friends in the Children and Youth lifelong learning classrooms.
You volunteer to help: You offer help with the things you enjoy — hospitality crew, outdoor yard work, the Choir, a Lifelong Learning classroom, or some Committee or Task Force. As you help, your sense of commitment is growing.
You contact the Minister: As you begin to feel that this might be your church home, you set up a time to talk with Reverend Bill to learn more about Unitarian Universalism and UUSMV.
You attend a New to UU program: In the New to UU class held three times per year, you learn more about how this society operates and the privileges and responsibility of membership, as you hear from the Reverend Bill and other leaders. You get information to help you decide about Unitarian Universalism and becoming a Member. This program is not a requirement for membership, but an opportunity to learn more to help with your decision.
You make your decision: When you decide to become a member, you are also making the commitment to support UUSMV with your time, talent and treasure. You are ready to affirm that you’ll attend services and church events, work on your own spiritual growth, take part in our shared ministry with your time, talents and financial support, and honor church policies including our Covenant of Right Relations.
Financial Support: Because consistent financial support is essential to making our society’s vision a reality, every member and active friend is asked to share in that stewardship by making an annual pledge. Members who make a financial pledge have the privilege of participating in the governance of the Society and can vote in congregational meetings that choose officers, alter the bylaws, and decide on important issues and large expenditures. The financial pledge may be substituted with a service commitment if you are experiencing financial hardship. You can discuss this with the Minister.
You share your decision with the Minister: At anytime you have decided that you wish to become a member, you tell Reverend Bill or a member of the Membership Committee. Membership Sundays that honor and celebrate new members are schedule three times per year. However, you may speak with Reverend Bill at anytime about your wish to become a member and you may choose a more private membership ceremony.
You sign the Book: In a small ceremony with Reverend Bill and a few members or in a festive Sunday Membership service the congregation welcomes you as a Member. You formally sign the Membership Book, receive a welcoming packet, and get handshakes and hugs from the congregation.
Congratulations! You’re a Member: Your path in Membership has just begun. How do you want to shape the future of your church, whether as a leader or worker bee? Want to teach a class, share a hobby, reach out to people in need, change the world? With you, we can do it!