The privileges and requirements of membership in the church are constitutional, and changes therein may be made only by amendment according to ¶¶225-228. Nothing shall be included in the membership ritual that is contrary to the following definitions of conditions and privileges of membership.
¶151 THE REQUIREMENTS OF MEMBERSHIP ARE:
- Christian baptism, confession of a personal experience in regeneration, and a pledge to seek diligently until sanctified wholly if that experience has not been attained.
- Acceptance of the Articles of Religion, the Membership Covenant, the goals for Christian conduct, and matters of church government as written in the Book of Discipline or its equivalent (The Manual).
- A covenant to support the church, to live in fellowship with the member thereof, to be an active participant in the ministry of the church, and to seek God’s glory in all things.
- Approval of membership by the official board and the candidate’s public declaration of membership vows.
¶152 THE RIGHTS OF MEMBERSHIP ARE:
- To vote and hold office upon reaching the age designated by the general conference.
- Trial and appeal if charged with failure to maintain the conditions of membership, with the specific provision that joining another religious denomination or sect shall of itself sever membership in the church without trial.
¶153 CHURCH MEMBERSHIP MAY BE TERMINATED ONLY BY:
- Voluntary withdrawal (including permission to withdraw under complaint).
- Joining another religious denomination or sect or a secret order.
- Expulsion after proper summary proceeding, or trial and conviction.
- Persistent neglect of church relationship by a member, which in effect is voluntary withdrawal.
¶154 PRIVILEGE AND RESPONSIBILITY
Membership in the church is a high privilege and responsibility. We believe the covenant required of members is consistent with the teaching of the written Word of God. Faithfulness to the covenant is evidence of the individual member’s desire to sustain a saving relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord, to bring glory to God, to advance the cause of God on earth, to preserve the unity of the body of Christ, and to cherish the fellowship of the Free Methodist Church.
¶155 MEMBERSHIP ACCOUNTABILITY
When a member does not keep his covenant and habitually violates his vows, it is the responsibility of minister and members to point to the failure and to seek in love to restore the member. If, after these steps have been taken, the member does not keep his commitments, he must be dealt with in accord with the due processes of the church.
¶156 MEMBERSHIP CONFESSION, COMMITMENT AND COVENANT
A member of the Free Methodist Church, trusting in the enablement of the Holy Spirit and seeking the support of the other members of the church, makes the following confession and commitments as a covenant with the Lord and the church.