Discipline ¶216

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The Meaning of Membership
216. 1. Christ constitutes the church as his body by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13, 27). The church draws new people into itself as it seeks to remain faithful to its commission to proclaim and exemplify the gospel. Baptism is the sacrament of initiation and incorporation into the body of Christ. After baptism, the church provides the nurture that makes possible a comprehensive and lifelong process of growing in grace. Becoming a professing member requires the answer of faith of the baptized person made visible in a service of profession of Christian faith and confirmation using the vows of the Baptismal Covenant.
    a) Baptized infants and children are to be instructed and nurtured in the meaning of the faith, the rights and responsibilities of their baptism, and spiritual and moral formation using materials approved by The United Methodist Church. Using the services of the Baptismal Covenant, youth will profess their faith, commit themselves to a life of discipleship, and be confirmed. Confirmation is both a human act of commitment and the gracious action of the Holy Spirit strengthening and empowering discipleship.
b) Youth and adults who have not been baptized and who are seeking to be saved from their sins and profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are proper candidates for baptism in The United Methodist Church. It shall be the duty of the congregation, led by the pastor, to instruct them in the meaning of baptism, in the meaning of the Christian faith, and in the history, organization, and teachings of The United Methodist Church, using materials approved by The United Methodist Church for that purpose. After the completion of the period of nurture and instruction, the sponsor(s) and pastor shall bring the candidates before the congregation and administer the services of Baptismal Covenant, in which people are baptized, confirmed, and received into the Church.
  2. a) Formation in the Baptismal Covenant and in the call to ministry in daily life is a lifelong process and is carried on through all the activities that have educational value. The pastor gives specific leadership that prepares youth for their profession of faith and commitment to discipleship and for the Holy Spirit’s action confirming them in their faith and empowering their discipleship. This preparation focuses attention upon the meaning of discipleship and the need for members to be in mission in all of life’s relationships.
    b) There are many occasions as people mature in the faith when the Holy Spirit’s confirming action may be celebrated, such as in the reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant or other services related to life passages. Unlike baptism, which is a once-made covenant and can only be reaffirmed and not repeated, confirmation is a dynamic action of the Holy Spirit that can be repeated.
  3. Preparation for the experience of profession of faith and confirmation shall be provided for all people, including adults. Youth who are completing the sixth grade shall normally be the youngest people recruited for such preparation. When younger people, of their own volition, seek enrollment in preparation for profession of faith and confirmation, such preparation shall be at the discretion of the pastor.