Frequently Asked Questions About Membership
How do I become a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church?
We strive to make everyone feel like they belong at St. Mary’s. While some members of our church are comfortable with an informal affiliation, others may want to take the next step in becoming official members of the parish community.
If you’re feeling called to be involved more deeply in the life of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, please contact the church office, 703-527-6800, to make an appointment with Fr. Chris Cole. The discussion of membership in the Episcopal Church can be confusing since it depends on the individual’s faith journey and particular history of membership with other traditions or congregations.
You may wish to look at our Adult Formation Web page to see when the next Newcomer Course and Claiming Your Identity Membership Course will be offered.
Can I become a member if I’ve never been baptized?
Baptism is the official entry into the church, the Body of Christ. Being baptized in any Episcopal Church makes you an Episcopalian. Being baptized at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church makes you an Episcopalian and a member of St. Mary’s.
What if I was baptized in a different denomination?
You would enter the Episcopal Church through confirmation. Confirmation is the service in which persons ‘express a mature commitment to Christ.’ Those who were baptized without laying on of hands by a bishop may recommit themselves to the responsibilities of their baptism and receive laying on of hands by a bishop. One does not need to be baptized twice, however. Your baptism is recognized in the Episcopal Church as long as the baptism was recorded in the rolls of any Christian denomination (Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, etc.).
What if I was baptized and confirmed in another denomination?
You would enter the Episcopal Church through Reception. If you’ve already been baptized and confirmed in another denomination such as the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran Church, or the Methodist Church, you can become a member of the Episcopal Church by being received. This is done at a service during which the bishop lays hands on you and says, “We . . . receive you into the fellowship of this communion.”
What if I was baptized in the Episcopal Church, but not at St. Mary’s?
You would enter the Episcopal Church through a formal Letter of Transfer – A Letter of Transfer is a way to transfer your membership from one Episcopal Church to another Episcopal Church. You are a member of the Episcopal Church in which you were baptized unless you’ve requested your membership be transferred. If an Episcopalian has moved to several Episcopal Churches over the course of his/her life, a Transfer Letter must be requested at each new Church in order for your membership to be moved. With a few details, the parish administrator (Elizabeth Bruington) can handle this transfer for you.
Once you’ve been baptized and confirmed, you may choose to publically reaffirm your commitment to God. Reaffirmation may take place at any point in your journey. Reaffirmation happens in the presence of a bishop and affirms your commitment to live according to your baptismal promises. The important thing to remember is that, for whatever reason God has led you to St. Mary’s (outreach projects, fellowship, a musical offering, a quiet place to pray), you belong here and we will do everything we can to support you, wherever you may be on your journey.