A Guide to Becoming a Member Of Central Philadelphia Meeting Of Friends
Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting welcomes your interest in membership. As you consider this step, it is necessary to become acquainted with this Meeting and with Quaker literature. It is hoped that this brochure will be a helpful guide.
A large part of becoming a member is getting acquainted. Our Attenders Committee can help introduce you to the Meeting. To be in touch with this committee, please ask the person who makes announcements at the end of Meeting for Worship, or any other member of the Meeting. The Attenders Committee can provide you with a packet of useful information about the Meeting.
Meeting for Worship
The most important way in which to become acquainted with the Meeting is to attend Meetings for Worship over a period of months. This time gives you an opportunity to know the strengths and weaknesses of our religious community, and to better know whether this is the right spiritual home for you. During this time, it is important to become acquainted with members of the Meeting who can assist you in learning about it and its practices and who can impart a flavor for who we are and what we are about. It is also a time during which members of the Meeting can become acquainted with you.
Meeting for Business
Monthly Meetings for Business are held in the spirit of worship. In Meetings for Business, members deal with social and spiritual concerns as well as the practicalities of the life of the Meeting. Each member of the Meeting has an obligation to play a role in carrying out the Meeting’s business. Thus, it is important for anyone contemplating membership to attend Meetings for Business in order to gain an understanding of this responsibility.
Other Meeting Activities
A person considering membership can also become involved by:
- Getting on the Meeting mailing list to receive newsletters and other mailings;
- Attending Meeting for Worship;
- Attending coffee hour following Meeting for Worship (name tags make it easier for us to get to know each other);
- Attending Meeting functions, such the Meeting Weekend usually held in February or March;
- Attending gatherings, workshops and discussions, and classes when they are held;
- Joining in Meeting projects and responsibilities such as helping with coffee hour or volunteering to help with the work of open committees or of ad hoc groups as it develops during the year;
- Joining the Attenders Committee which is open to all attenders; and
- Meeting with other committees open to all attenders.
We consider it vital to read Faith and Practice and other Quaker literature. If you would like help in selecting useful literature, please ask the Clerk of the Attenders Committee, or any other member of the Meeting. There is also a brief reading list in the Attenders Packet. The Yearly Meeting Library (in Friends Center) and the Friends General Conference Bookstore (1216 Arch St. - two blocks from Friends Center) are additional resources.
When you feel you are ready to apply for membership, you should inform the Meeting by addressing a letter to the Monthly Meeting. Your letter should state why you feel drawn to the fellowship of the Religious Society of Friends, and our Meeting in particular, and indicate the extent of your sympathy with the principles and testimonies of the Society of Friends. In your letter, it would be helpful to describe any affiliation that you have or may have had with any other religious body, and its current status. Please feel free to discuss making application with a member of the Membership Care Committee before writing to the Meeting.
The clerk of the Monthly Meeting will read your letter to the Monthly Meeting for Business, and then your letter will be referred to Membership Care Committee.
A small group of Member Care Contacts, call a Clearness Committee, will be in touch with you. Its purpose is to:
- Make sure you have gotten to know the Meeting and are comfortable with it;
- Consider your understanding of the basis of Friends’ beliefs and practices;
- Establish clarity that the Society of Friends grows out of the Christian tradition and that its social concerns are rooted in profound religious experience;
- Review the responsibilities of members to participate in worship, to take part in service through committees and in other ways, and to assume a just share of financial support
- Make certain that you are free of membership in any other religious group.
Sometimes clearness will not be established in a single meeting. In fact, it is not uncommon for the Committee and the applicant to decide to wait while the applicant gains a clearer understanding of what is being undertaken or membership in another religious group is resolved. Most often, the membership process is completed within a few months.
Occasionally, in the course of the clearness process, it becomes obvious to the applicant, the Committee, or both, that our Meeting is not the right spiritual home for this person. In such cases, the applicant may choose to continue to worship with us but not take on the responsibilities of membership, or may choose to seek a religious fellowship more suited to his or her spiritual direction.
Consideration by the Meeting
When Membership Care finds no hesitation or obstruction to the acceptance of your application, they will so report to the Monthly Meeting. The Meeting considers this report and holds over final action until a subsequent session of the Monthly Meeting for Business in order that Friends may become better acquainted with you.
When your application is approved, the Monthly Meeting will record your acceptance into membership, and two or more Friends will be appointed to welcome you into the Meeting. The welcoming is also an occasion to review the expectations of membership and answer any questions you may have.
Our Meeting feels that membership is a mutual commitment, and one that should not be undertaken lightly. It is a commitment by the Meeting to each of the individuals who are its members, and a commitment by individual members to the Meeting as a whole. We look forward to exploring whether to make this mutual commitment.
Approved July 1987