In the oft referenced 5 Smooth Stones of Liberal Religion, theologian James Luther Adams tells us:
…all relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not on coercion.
Our congregations tend to honor this in a way that isn’t often the subject of consideration:
the membership book.
In most Christian churches, you are made a part of the community through baptism. That is, they bless you and anoint you into their number. They sanctify you; you receive their welcome.
Unitarian Universalist congregations instead have the membership book, where people place ink to paper along side all the other folks who have committed themselves to supporting the mission of the congregation. Your membership is dependent on your choice and action to join the roll. It may seem like a small change, as most organizations ask for some kind of signature, but for us, it is an important one. It assures that you have been offered the choice, and you bless us with your inclusion. Ideally, you feel ownership as much as belonging, as we all “belong” together.
What does belonging mean to you? When do you feel it most?