On this page, we try to answer a number of common questions folks have about the church. So, here it goes, “How to..”
Become a Member… You needn’t be a member of the congregation to participate in activities or worship or receive communion, however, many who see Laurel as their spiritual home have wanted to deepen that relationship through becoming a member. All who seek to trust their lives to Jesus Christ are eligible for membership at any Presbyterian without reference to race, sex, gender, physical ability or any other characteristic that society sometimes uses to define us.
The process usually begins by talking to the minister, who will arrange for a meeting with the leadership council of the church, the Session. At that meeting, you’ll get to meet our elders and find out what they do. Then you’ll be asked to share why you’re interested in joining the church and ways in which you might like to become active. Once you are welcomed by the Session, a Sunday will be arranged where you’ll be welcomed by the broader church in a service of worship.
As a member of Laurel Church, you’ll be invited to use your gifts (and, yes, you certainly have them!) in a fun and meaningful way within the church’s ministry. You are also eligible to be elected a ruling elder in the church. It is our hope for you that church membership will be like becoming a member of a new and loving family!
Baptize a Child… The Presbyterian understanding of baptism is that the sacrament is available to all persons, of any age, including infants. We believe baptism is a tangible sign of God’s grace at work and of entrance into the community of faith. While baptism naturally follows an adult’s profession of faith, for infants and small children who cannot yet claim their faith, it becomes a promise based upon the faith of the child’s parents. In the Presbyterian Church, at least one parent must be a member of the congregation in order for a child to be baptized.
In seeking baptism for their child, the parents promise to raise their child, to the best of their ability, in the Christian faith. In addition, the congregation vows to assist those parents in nurturing the faith of the child. These promises take place during a public service of worship. Parents seeking baptism should contact the minister, who will then seek the approval of the Session.
A date will be set for the baptism. Parents are welcome to bring family members and even designate “godparents,” if they so choose, who may be part of the baptismal service. It is the expectation that, at some point, the child will come to an age where he or she can make a personal commitment of faith, and, typically after some further training, will be “confirmed” as an active member of the church. The young person’s confession of faith “confirms” those made years earlier by his or her parents.
Schedule a Wedding… Laurel Church is open to weddings of all persons who seek a Christian wedding without regard to sex or gender. Couples do not need to be members of Laurel Church. Typically, the Laurel minister officiates at the service, but outside clergy may preside with the approval of the Session. There is a fee for use of the sanctuary* and the wedding coordinator. All weddings at the church must use the services of our wedding coordinator, who will assure that the building is ready for the rehearsal and on the wedding day, clean up afterward, and help the couple and their families in any way possible. She will also familiarize the couple with policies regarding decoration, photography, the throwing of rice, etc.
If the minister performs the marriage service, there is no fee for her services, but couples will often choose to give her an honorarium. There is a fee for the services of the organist, which may be negotiated directly with him. Outside musicians may be used as well. Organists must be approved by the Laurel director of music. Wedding preparations begin by contacting the minister to check dates on the church calendar. The minister will also check with the wedding coordinator to coordinate with her schedule.
Once a date is chosen, the couple completes a use form which includes a description of the fees. This form must be approved by the Laurel Session, but typically approval is a formality. The wedding coordinator should then be contacted by the couple, along with well as director of music if his services are to be used. Prior to the wedding date, the minister will arrange two to three counseling sessions with the couple to discuss the wedding service and issues related to married life. For further information and a list of current fees, please contact the minister at the church office.
*Note that for Laurel Church members there is no usage fee for the Sanctuary or the Fellowship Hall.
Let us know if you have any other “how to?” questions!