PATHS TO COMMUNICANT MEMBERSHIP IN OUR FELLOWSHIP AT TRINITY
Which path toward membership is determined to a large degree by the individual’s background. Likewise, becoming a part of our congregation is not merely a matter of going through a class, but is the taking on of an understanding of life, a confession of the faith, a way of worship, and being part of a particular fellowship. Meeting with the pastor is the best place to start. But generally speaking, the following description of the paths toward baptized, communicant membership are followed:
+ TRANSFER – For those coming from another congregation of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (or a congregation in our church fellowship, such as TAALC or LC-C), who are already baptized communicant members of their previous congregation, are usually simply transferred by action of both congregations. The pastor will still wish to discuss matters of teaching and practice given the divergences in some LCMS congregations. We cannot receive transfers from ELCA or other non-LCMS Lutheran church bodies.
+ GENERAL ADULT CATECHISM CLASS – For those coming from non-Lutheran Christian background (for example Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, ELCA, non-denominational, etc.) usually adult catechesis (instruction) is held to cover biblical teaching as summarized in the catechism and to cover the historic Lutheran liturgy. This course usually will go for some months, but usually less than a year. Because of radically divergent issues between the LCMS and the ELCA, prospective members from congregations of the ELCA will typically be asked to go through adult catechism class as well. Public confirmation and affirmation of our confession of the faith is mandatory before being received into communicant membership. Those received into communicant membership (regular or associate) cannot hold membership in the LCMS and a church body not in fellowship with the LCMS.
+ ADULT CATECHISM CLASS WITH EXTRA ATTENTION – For those coming with no or little Christian background thorough catechesis (instruction) will be needed toward both receiving Holy Baptism, public affirmation of the Lutheran confession of the faith, and to be received as a communicant member of the congregation. In mind for this path are those coming from non-Christian religions or no religion at all (for example Buddhist, Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, atheist, agnostic, pagan, unitarian).
For those coming from other Christian denominations and are already baptized, we want to ensure in these days that such were baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. For those baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, there is no need for another baptism and it would be wrong to have another one. Those baptized among Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses or Oneness Pentecostals will need to be baptized again, so to speak, though in such cases those baptisms were not properly Scriptural.
+ YOUTH CATECHESIS (“confirmation”) – Baptized youths at Trinity now are typically going through Catechism Class (“confirmation”) during middle school years, with some flexibility as to which grade or the precise age. Our concern has to do with the student’s readiness as well as the commitment of the parent(s). A minimum of three years of intensive instruction are required at Trinity prior to going through the rite of confirmation. The pastor reserves the right to commend a student for another year when deemed necessary for admission to the altar. Note: Generally only children of parents who are already attending Divine Service regularly will be admitted to catechism class toward confirmation. Children of parents who are will not attending regularly will not be admitted.
Parents seeking the sacrament of Holy Baptism for their children are asked to meet with the pastor regarding this. Grandparents are not legal guardians of their grandchildren typically. Holy Baptism does not exist in isolation from “teaching all things” Christ has given His church. It is expected that those parents seeking Holy Baptism will be regular participants in the life of the church – the Divine Service, teaching, prayer, catechesis, etc.