Thoughts on Membership
In 2009, when I realized I’d found ‘my people’ at this Center, I had absolutely no intention of formally joining the organization. I had a long and unpleasant history of every organization that I formally joined imploding, exploding, disbanding, or being shut down. Yet I recognized that this was a philosophy I could really step into. (Little did I know how far…) These people were speaking, and practicing, what I already believed was The Truth. So I asked how I could participate.
At the time, we met at the Kiva on River Rd on Sundays. It was a Sundays-only use agreement. The main room at the Kiva was long, dark, and kind of dingy from long use, and not a lot of care. We had it reserved for our use between 9 and noon. Every week we had to set up everything, including the chairs, and any tables we would use. We had to set up our own sound system, and there was no projector. The ceilings were too low for projection. Oh, and there was one single stall toilet closet in the back. In fact, that was when Tom, Joe, Carol and Charlie started helping us. The Board was really small at that moment in time, and they took turns being responsible for making sure the space was set up correctly for Sunday services.
My friend and tai chi buddy Mark was Board President. Many weeks he carried a lot of the Sunday morning set up load by himself, working with Tom and Joe. I asked if I could help by hauling the church-in-a-box sometimes. He let me help. (I know this sounds like the old story of Huck Finn tricking his friends into whitewashing the fence, but it didn’t feel that way to me.)
I had already started taking classes. Like I said, I’d found my tribe; I intended to learn everything I could about this new/old way of seeing, and being, in the world. “Foundations of the Science of Mind” had been mind- expanding and earth-moving. I grabbed hold of this new way like it was fresh oxygen for my body.
Since I was still living in Arizona City (roughly 70 minutes from Tucson, each way), I asked if I there was anything I could do to help out at the office, since I had driven to town for either CSLT classes or tai chi classes. My first foray into helping was in making nametags, which then shifted to doing database entry (we didn’t have a paid bookkeeper to do it, then). Over time my involvement slowly increased. But I still wasn’t a formal member, because everything I had joined previously had crashed, and I didn’t want to create that here.
Still, I did ask how one got on the Board. The answer was, “First you have to be a member for six months.” Oh. That. (Guess I have to change my story about that.) They then followed with, “But you can attend Board meetings and see how we work, and you can still help out.” You can see for yourself how that turned out.
What I’ve realized in the last couple years is that I don’t have a strong need for people to become members of our Center unless they really want to. To me, membership is a very individual decision. I’ve seen people become members, and then we never see them again, like it’s some kind of bizarre ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Since we don’t believe in hell, that’s kind of a hard one for me to wrap my mind around. Membership used in that way can’t be of much benefit to the member, and is of even less use, or value, to the Center.
I asked the ministers at our weekly ministers’ zoom lunch what their thoughts were about membership. The consensus point-of-view of the five ministers I asked was that membership in a Center is a public step in affirming a definitive formal relationship with the Divine.
That got me thinking. We don’t have a profession of faith like the traditional (primarily Christian) churches do. We don’t need it. Each one of us is already intimately one in the Divine Wholeness and Oneness. To become a member of this spiritual community is more about alignment and affiliation with a group of people who have decided it is more useful, and enjoyable, to expand and experience their spiritual growth with others than be a spiritual island. Everyone gets to decide how they want to play in this miraculous thing called life.
What called you to your present level of commitment and affiliation with CSLT, and does it still work for you?