Petition 81350

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Individual Responsibility for Professing Faith (81350-LC-¶216.1)

Amend ¶216.1 as follows:
  
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. It is the responsibility of every baptized person to determine the right time to make a profession of faith, and it is the responsibility of pastors and congregations to receive that profession when offered.  As first steps in faith can be halting, the community of faith must provide nurture and instruction to test, clarify, and help increase faith, but as long as the baptized member is at least 10 years old, it is the baptized member’s decision when to become a professing member.  No pastor or congregation may refuse to receive as a professing member a baptized youth or adult who wants to join the Church.

Rationale

Reviewing UM history regarding who determines readiness for membership indicates UMC has gradually, but totally, rejected any community's or pastor's authority to block a person from joining the Church; the Church has transferred from pastors and congregations to candidates responsibility for determining readiness of candidates to join the Church.