You do not have to be a member to participate in the activities of our Fellowship. In fact, we encourage everyone to take their time before making the commitment of membership. When you are ready, here is some information about the pathways to membership.

We have two categories for active participation in our Fellowship:

Both Voting Members and non-voting “Friends of the Fellowship” are expected to be in sympathy with and actively support the Vision, Mission and Principles of the Fellowship as described in the Fellowship bylaws. All are encouraged to participate in:

  • Some or all of the activities of the Fellowship, including ministry teams or committees either as members or leaders.
  • Some or all events, classes, discussion groups, and new & prospective Member Orientations

Voting Members have full privileges and responsibilities of membership and:

  • May vote on congregational issues, budget and officers
  • May serve on the Executive Committee
  • Are expected to make a regular contribution of record
  • Will receive a free subscription to UU World Magazine

Non-Voting “Friends of the Fellowship” are encouraged to participate fully in the Fellowship and may:

  • Register as a Non-Voting “Friend of the Fellowship”
  • Contribute to the activities of the Fellowship financially or non-financially
  • Receive a subscription to UU World Magazine at the membership subscription rate if they cover the cost

Membership has great advantages, but also responsibilities. This page can help you decide if membership is right for you.

The UU Fellowship of Visalia is a place for lifelong learning, spiritual growth, and social justice work. We wish to support and encourage your religious and spiritual growth. Please come and visit us as often as you can. Attend our programs – worship services and weekly social potlucks, and participate in our various religious education and social justice activities for as long as you wish before considering membership. Study the Seven UU Principles and Six Sources of the Living Tradition, and review some recommended reading.

Introduction

Any person who is at least 16 years of age and in general sympathy with the Fellowship’s purposes and programs may become a voting member by agreeing to financially support the Fellowship and by signing the membership book.

The purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Visalia are to “support individual freedom of belief, respect the differences of others, promote universal peace & understanding, and recognize the basic worth and dignity of all people.” These purposes are based on the Seven Unitarian Universalist Principles.

Membership is open to all persons regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, affectional or sexual orientation.

Personal Responsibilities

In addition, for the Fellowship to function effectively, and for members to have a meaningful experience, members are asked to subscribe to the following six personal responsibilities:

  • Attend church regularly
  • Work on your own spiritual growth and development
  • Serve on a committee or task group
  • Pledge at a responsible level
  • Be involved in service to others
  • Connect to the wider Unitarian Universalist movement

Becoming a member is a heart-felt decision, one that is not taken lightly. New members bring our spiritual community new ideas, new thoughts, and new views – the very essence of growth. Ours is a non-creedal faith, so we do not ask our members to accept a particular religious doctrine. But the commitment to membership signifies the acceptance of a higher calling. Our faith calls us to do things which are sometimes difficult — to welcome diverse people and ideas, to share our resources with others in need, and to care for our planet.

When to Join?

When you hear a voice inside say, “This is my religious home” and when you no longer view yourself as a guest, it is time to think about becoming a member.

We periodically have New & Prospective Member Orientations. These are not mandatory for joining, but are very helpful in deciding whether you want to join, and if so, how to do it intentionally and meaningfully.

A New Member Welcoming Ceremony is presented at various times of the year during our worship services. This is when you formally join our community, sign the Membership Book, and are welcomed by the congregation into membership.

Benefits of Membership

Membership in our Fellowship brings with it the benefits of belonging to a liberal religious community that affirms the individual search for truth and meaning, and encourages acting on our principles.

As a member, you will be mailed a subscription to the UU World Magazine, the journal of the Unitarian Universalist Association, which provides inspirational and practical articles on living our UU principles.

Only members can vote in congregational meetings to elect leaders or adopt a budget. (The right to vote is even more meaningful when the congregation adopts stands on issues in the larger community, the calling of a minister, or adopting elements of a strategic plan.) As an active member you may –

  • Act upon our Fellowship and denomination’s purposes of promoting individual freedom of belief, respect for the differences of others and promotion of universal peace and understanding.
  • Become empowered to explore new and ancient ideas and to acknowledge that revelation is never sealed and different spiritual expressions are of value.
  • Connect to the Unitarian Universalist movement worldwide at workshops, conferences and general assemblies of our regional Pacific Central District and the national Unitarian Universalist Association.
  • Develop your leadership ability by serving as a committee chairperson or a Board member.
  • Educate yourself by participating in worship services, forums, book discussions, small support groups, meditation and other spiritual practices and social activities.
  • Participate fully in our in-house social networking site, sponsored by Ning.com.
  • Enjoy the fellowship of good people.
  • Help create a modern faith that celebrates reason, inclusiveness and ethical living.
  • Join with others locally and globally who share the values of reason and tolerance in matters of faith, who recognize that religious inspiration comes from not one but many spiritual sources, and for whom the mystery of creation is a primary source of spiritual inspiration.
  • Nurture our children’s questions, without force-feeding narrow or bigoted “answers”.
  • Participate in weekly worship services with thought-provoking topics and discussions.
  • Receive and contribute to the UU Fellowship of Visalia Newsletter, which lists our ongoing activities and programs and upcoming events.
  • Support religious advocacy for social and environmental justice among all people regardless of economic status, race, gender, or sexual orientation.
  • “Walk the talk” by such things as helping our Fellowship become a Green Sanctuary, writing letters to the editor, protesting war and occupation at peace vigils, walking at hunger awareness events such as CropWalk (Church World Service, serving on local committees to improve our community, state, nation and world.

Responsibilities of Membership

As a member, you are called to explore and celebrate your personal spirituality in community with others. You are called to perform service in the larger community — in ways which are meaningful to you, through the Fellowship or through other organizations. You are called to the sometimes difficult task of trying to fully live and implement the UU Principles in your own life. Making the New Member Affirmation is just the start of this quest.

All members are asked to:

  • Volunteer at least four times per year on one or more simple member jobs.
  • Attend the Annual Meeting held in May or June of each year to vote on our budget and selection of officers and any other special congregational meetings held to adopt goals or positions on issues.
  • Get involved in a work group or committee –  Caring, Communications, Hospitality, Library Resources, Membership, Music, Outreach, Religious Education (for children or adults), “Rites of Passage”, Social Justice, Green Sanctuary, Worship Program, or find another way to make a personal contribution.
  • Work on short-term projects, such as canvassing for pledges, fund raisers, surveys, library cataloging, building and grounds work days, collections for food or warm clothing drives, , etc.
  • As a part of your membership, we ask that you accept financial responsibility to keep our Fellowship in sound financial shape. There is no centralized authority that supports us financially, nor does it tell us what to do or what to believe. Our primary source of financial support comes from our members who make financial gifts to the Fellowship. All members are asked to contribute financially as they are able.

By becoming a member of our Fellowship, you choose to join us in fostering a spiritual community dedicated to justice, beauty, diversity and truth. Members bring to the Fellowship their talent, energy, conviction and financial support, knowing that this community will prosper as we invest ourselves in it.

Further Questions?

If you are interested in joining our Fellowship as a member, or have more questions before joining, please contact our Membership Coordinator, who will be glad to sit down with you to answer any questions you may have, enroll you in a Newcomer Orientation class, or just to get to know you better. You can reach the Membership Chair at info@uuvisalia.org or by calling our general phone number: (559) 477-4214.