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Membership in the Buckhorn Lake Area Church

The Buckhorn Lake Area Church belongs to The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and membership in our church is governed by the Book of Order of the denomination; however, a person who wishes to join the church need not read the Book of Order. If the following frequently asked questions do not tell you what you want to know, please consult a pastor or other officer.

  1. My life is not all that it should be. Does that mean I cannot or should not join the church?
    On the contrary, you have just listed the first requirement for membership. Persons who are without sin have no need of a church, but the rest of us do. Welcome to the crowd!
  2. I used to be a member of the Buckhorn Church, but I have been inactive. What do I do to rejoin the Church?
    We will be so pleased to have you back with us! The category of Inactive Member has been removed from the Book of Order, so read the instructions in (3), which follows.
  3. I am not a member of any church. What must I do to join?
    Speak to a pastor or elder and he or she will arrange for you to meet with the Session at a regular stated meeting [2nd Sundays, odd-numbered months] or at a special meeting, at which time you will be asked to affirm your faith. If you have not been baptized previously, arrangements will be made for that event. Presbyterians usually baptize by placing water on your head, but we will arrange for you to be baptized by immersion if you prefer. We do not re-baptize anyone who has been baptized before.
  4. Do I come down the aisle during a service?
    Not unless you want to. Presbyterians don't happen to do it that way. You just speak to an officer before, after, or outside of church as indicated above, and he or she will make sure you get a chance to express your desire to the Session.
  5. I am a member of another church. How do I change my membership?
    Presbyterian churches, and many other churches as well, will provide you with a letter of transfer to the Buckhorn Lake Area Church. If we receive a letter of transfer, you will be formally introduced to the congregation at a regular worship service, but no other action is required on your part.
  6. I am unable to get a letter of transfer from my present church, so what do I do?
    The Session of our church will meet with you, either at our regular stated meeting [2nd Sundays, odd-numbered months] or at a meeting called for the purpose, at which time you will be asked to reaffirm your faith. You will then be introduced to the congregation as a new member. As a previously baptized Christian, you will not be baptized again.
  7. Can I be a member of two churches?
    A member of our church who is attending college, serving in the military, enjoying an extended vacation, or happens for other reasons to reside in two communities, may hold full membership in our church and be an affiliate member of a Presbyterian congregation elsewhere by asking our session for a certificate of good standing and asking the session of the other church to be received there as an affiliate member. Similarly, a member of another Christian church, which need not be Presbyterian, may present our session with a certificate of good standing and become an affiliate member here. Affiliate members are the same as full members, except that they may not hold office or vote at congregational meetings. It is no longer necessary to extend affiliate memberships every three years.
  8. If I am to affirm or reaffirm my faith, what will I be asked?
    The requirement to be a member is that you be a Christian. Presbyterians have hundreds of specific beliefs, often conflicting, but none of them is pertinent to simple membership. Usually a pastor or elder will ask: "What do you believe?" Your answer may satisfy the Session. If not, a question such as one of these may be asked:
    Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving his displeasure, and without hope save in his sovereign mercy?

    Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and depend upon him alone for salvation as he is offered in the Gospels?

    Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?

    Do you promise to serve Christ in his Church by supporting and participating in its worship and work to the best of your ability?

    Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to further its purity and peace?
  9. My personal situation makes it very difficult for me to participate in the work and worship of the Buckhorn congregation. Does this prevent me from joining the church?
    Yes and no. Our denomination does requires that members participate in the work and worship of the church, but work and worship include many specific activities—listed in the Book of Order—that are possible even for those in constrained circumstances. These activities include
    ...proclaiming the good news in word and deed to those about you;

    ...requesting that the church make arrangements for you to receive communion on a regular basis if communion is not already available;

    ...praying for the congregation, the pastors and other officers, and the work of the church;

    ...providing financial support appropriate to your situation;

    ...responding to the extent possible to God's activity in the world by being helpful to others; responsibly in your personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships;

    ...speaking out for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment; and

    ... reviewing and reconsidering other ways to serve Christ more often and more fully.
    If you are able to affirm your willingness to participate as far as you are able in the work and worship of the church, as expanded by the above activities, then we would welcome you as a member. If not, you might consider affiliate membership as described in paragraph (7).
  10. What about older children and teenagers?
    Youth become members by the same process as adults; however, the Session may determine that some instruction, commonly called a "confirmation class," is needed before the person is asked to make an affirmation of faith.
  11. What about babies and young children?
    Presbyterians believe in the baptism of infants. A parent should consult a pastor to schedule a suitable worship service, where the parents and congregation accept responsibility for the child to be raised as a Christian until he or she is old enough to make a personal affirmation of faith.