Pathway to Membership
UU Estrie is a liberal spiritual community, welcoming people of diverse religious backgrounds, or none at all. Because it is a non-creedal faith, there is no formal religious formation program for becoming a member. Some people feel immediately at home and formally join within a few weeks or months, for others the process is not so direct. Others who attend regularly and support the church financially and with volunteer energy, may never actually ‘join’ as full voting members. The pathway from exploration as a first time visitor to full membership is different for each person, and often occurs once meaningful relationships have been established with others in loving community. At any time in your participation here, you may wish to consult with the minister about your religious questions, seek support during a life crisis, or inquire about the meaning of membership.
Whether as visitor, member or long-time friend, here for Sunday morning worship or any other event, you are welcome to participate fully in our UUEstrie community. You are encouraged to attend a number of services to experience a variety of themes, content and worship styles. Many religious beliefs come together under our one roof; we are Buddhists, Christians, humanists, pagans, agnostics, atheists, and seekers together sharing a common path. Come, explore and add your good will and energy to the many goings-on that comprise the full life of this congregation.
In the event that you begin to identify yourself as UU, and wish to be more formally associated with UUEstrie, you may find yourself volunteering, for example, with the children’s programme, helping out with a church supper, or providing refreshments during Sunday morning “coffee hour”. You may then wish to support UUEstrie with (tax-creditable) financial pledges, adding your resources with others to sustain not only the Sunday worship services, as well as programs and events, as well as the historic building that houses them. Your contribution is gratefully welcomed, as the UU Estrie’s main source of income is the donations of members and friends of the congregation.
At any time you may ask to sign the membership book, adding your name in the presence of two witnesses, to those of the gathered community in North Hatley dating back to the mid-1800s, thereby becoming a voting ‘Member’ of UUEstrie. This act of making a semi-public declaration of one’s commitment to Unitarian Universalism, and to supporting the mission and values of UUEstrie, is most often a very meaningful moment. It is usuallt celebrated in a Sunday morning worship service with a covenantal statement in which new members are affirmed and welcomed by minister and congregation.
What Does It Mean to Be A Member?
Membership in our spiritual community comes with privileges and responsibilities. We are congregational in our governance, which means we are self-governed by our voting Members, who are also the owners of the property. It is we, the Members, who decide our own rules, elect our own leaders, choose our own minister, create our own worship as we see fit. Thus, the members have some power and responsibility in defining the church as an institution.
By becoming a Member one gains the right to vote at congregational meetings or serve on our Board of Trustees. UUEstrie is a member of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC), an association of Canadian UU congregations, with administrative offices in Toronto, to which we pay an annual fair share contribution for each active voting member. Our voting members are also, perforce, members of the CUC, and eligible to become voting delegates at CUC meetings, where decisions are made about the direction and programmes of the Canadian UU movement.
Formal Membership gives one the right to vote at congregational meetings. But, in fact, non-member ‘friends’ of the congregation are always welcomed and given ‘the privilege of the floor’ as well, so their opinions may, and often do, influence congregational decisions. Should anything come to a formal vote, however, only the active Members have the right to vote. It was also mentioned that only Members can serve on our Board, but all other committees of the Church can, and do, welcome non-member friends who are willing to share their skills and their time. Similarly, voting at CUC meetings requires being a Member, but participating in CUC workshops and other events is open to friends of the Church as well.