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To be a member? Or not to be a member?

04.02.15 | Stories | by Jana Rentzel

To be a member? Or not to be a member?

    It wasn’t until after becoming a member in February that I began to see what a huge difference it was making in my life. Suddenly I was not just a visitor. I was an integral part of this church family and other churchgoers were part of my family.

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    When Chris and I got engaged over ten years ago, we decided to marry in his church of 30 years, Highland Park United Methodist Church.  I loved HPUMC and, having grown up as a Presbyterian, I felt right at home. 

    After the wedding, we attended services on a “somewhat” regular basis. Each time we felt a deep sense of spiritual renewal and inspiration, both individually, and as a couple.  This level of involvement seemed perfectly adequate to us. 

    Then, towards the end of last year, it dawned on me (hello, God!) that I should join the church. I'm not sure why it became so clear to me that I should do so, but the moment I made the decision, Chris and I both knew it was right. 

    It wasn’t until after becoming a member in February that I began to see what a huge difference it was making in my life.  Suddenly I was not just a visitor. I was an integral part of this church family and other churchgoers were part of my family. 

    Along with this new sense of belonging, I desired to get more involved. I wanted to get to know my church family better and play a more meaningful part in it. I joined the United Methodist Women and started visiting circles and small groups to decide which one(s) to join. I also joined the church’s fitness center, where I can practice yoga and work out every week with other members.

    When Chris had heart surgery last month Mary Bishop, a member of the Congregational Care Ministry visited us at the hospital. I can hardly express what a bright light she was in that waiting room. For hours we sat together and prayed that Chris would be all right. He was, thank God! Later after returning home, we received a warm follow-up call from Rev. Terry Jones. That is family. 

    None of this ever occurred to me before becoming a member.

    I had no idea of the huge world that would open up to me or of how much it would mean to me.  It has deepened my spiritual life as well as that of my marriage.  To put it simply and perhaps profoundly: membership provides God with a whole new conduit through which to reach me and guide my works in this world. 

    My prayer is that others will gain these things as well.  For any of you who believe, as I did, that visiting our church, however regularly, is tantamount to becoming a member, please trust me:  your gains in becoming a member will be beyond anything you may currently imagine.  Please join our family and find out for yourself. 


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