The rules governing parish membership are set out in the By-Laws. A person may become a member of a ROCOR parish if they are an Orthodox Christian, have reached the age of 18 years, pay the established membership dues, make their confession and take Holy Communion not less than once a year, live in a manner befitting an Orthodox Christian, and tend to the moral and economic welfare of the parish.
Parish membership has its roots in decisions of the All-Russian Church Council of 1917. This Council, the first of its kind in over 200 years, introduced many important changes with a view to invigorating the life of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Normal Parish By-Laws are an important part of this legacy.
Parish membership is something quite distinct from church attendance, or even participation in the sacramental life of the church. Membership makes it possible for a person to be involved in formal parish decision-making at various levels. A person cannot serve on the Parish Council, for example, without first becoming a parish member.
There is no obligation upon any person to become a parish member. A person might regularly attend one or more parishes in our Diocese and participate in the sacramental life of the church and yet feel no desire to seek formal parish membership. This is entirely a decision for each individual. There are certainly no adverse consequences for not seeking parish membership. Pastorally, no distinction is made between members and non-members.
It is nevertheless the policy of this parish to encourage all regular worshippers and friends of the parish to consider membership. The reason for this is that it helps ensure that parish decision-making is representative of the broadest range of people who attend and take an interest in the welfare of the church. It also increases the pool of people from which a Parish Council can be drawn.
In our parish, the annual membership fee is $30.00. Membership is granted for a calendar year; that is, from January to December. New members gain the right to vote only after 6 months of membership. Those new members who transfer membership from another ROCOR parish may vote immediately.
Paragraph 12 of the By-Laws requires any person wishing to become a member of a parish to make a written application to the Parish Council. To make this easier for everyone, our parish has developed an ‘Application for Parish Membership’ form. A copy of the membership form can be viewed or downloaded here.
If required, pre-printed copies of the form are available from the candle-desk at church. Parish members are also asked to complete the ‘Application for Parish Membership’ form upon annual renewal of membership. This helps ensure that parish records are up-to-date, that personal details remain correct, and that the conditions for membership continue to be met. Any questions or concerns regarding formal parish membership should be raised with the parish rector or with a member of the Parish Council. Completed membership forms may be handed in at the candle desk.