The Constitution and Uniform Parish Regulations of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the North and South America and the By-Laws of Saint Steven’s Cathedral define membership as the following:
Any person, eighteen years of age or older, who was baptized according to the rites of the Orthodox Church, or who was received into the Church through Chrismation, who lives according to the faith and canons of the Orthodox Church, who regularly fulfill their spiritual and material obligations to the Church and Congregation, and who with their exemplary Christian life, fulfills other conditions prescribed for the members of Congregations.
The responsibilities of membership may be divided into the fulfillment of three distinct areas of commitment to Christ and to His Church: our liturgical fulfillment, our stewardship fulfillment, and our canonical fulfillment.
In order to be a "member in good standing" at Saint Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, each person must have fulfilled all three aspects of his/her total commitment to the Church. Article 4 of the Cathedral By-Laws defines it as the following:
Article 4 Membership
“Therefore, in order for a person to be considered a member in good standing of a Church-School Congregation, it is expected that he or she, in addition to the fulfillment of financial obligations to the congregation, also fulfill the following conditions:
- Is a member in good standing of the parish
- Is at least 18 years old;
- Exemplary life and behavior, according to the moral teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church;
- Is ready at all times to defend the interest of the Serbian Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy in general;
- Enjoys the good reputation of a pious Christian and good citizen and fruitful member of the community in which he resides;
- Regularly participates in the worship of the Church;
- Regularly receives the Holy Sacraments of Confession and Communion in his parish church and performs other Christian duties prescribed by the Church;
- Is obedient to the rules of the By-Laws of the Church-School Congregation and the decisions of the higher bodies and organs of the Serbian Orthodox Church.”
The fulfillment of our liturgical commitment to the Church requires our regular participation in the services and sacraments of the Church. Without such a commitment to participation in the Church's life, one cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. As our Lord said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you . . . he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John. 6:54,56). It is therefore essential that each person commit themselves to frequent participation in the Holy Eucharist (Communion), as well as regular participation in the Sacrament of Confession. Any questions regarding one's participation in these sacraments should be referred to the Cathedral Dean.
Fulfillment of our commitment to Christ and to the Church also requires the stewardship of our resources in a manner which follows with the precepts of the Gospel. This includes a commitment on our part to support our local Cathedral Parish through the offering of our financial resources as well as of our own unique gifts and talents. In order to be a "member in good standing" of Saint Steven’s Cathedral, each person or family must make a financial commitment (pledge) to the church on an annual basis, and fulfill that commitment throughout the year. Members are encouraged to use a "percentage giving" method, whereby each person or family sets aside a certain percentage of their income for the church. It is understood that situations change and unforeseen events arise; a pledge may therefore be amended by simply calling the Church office. It should be emphasized, moreover, that our stewardship commitment goes far beyond financial matters; it is rather a commitment of the totality of life to God. Stewardship, therefore, also includes volunteering to serve, helping to organize and execute church functions, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, cleaning and maintaining the Church, and other forms of ministry; it is engagement in the total life of the church.In 2009, The Church Assembly (Sabor). as the principal legislative body of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, adopted a revision to the Constitution which kept all spiritual obligations for membership the same, but eliminated the dues system as a financial obligation for membership, and replaced it with a stewardship obligation for all members to be considered in good standing. At a Special Congregation Meeting on October 24, 2010, Saint Steven’s Cathedral amended its By-Laws in order to conform with this revision to the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America and adopted the following By-Law change:
“Members should have all of their church services and requirements administered to in the church and by the Parish Priest/Rector of this church, attend church services regularly with their families, educate their children in the principles of the Serbian Orthodox Faith, attend church celebrations, social programs and commemorations, attend church business meetings and fulfill their annual stewardship pledge. A member in good standing is one whose stewardship pledge is fulfilled each year. Only members in good standing can vote at meetings. Should a member without sufficient cause refuse to fulfill his pledge each year, such a person shall cease to be a member in good standing and shall lose all rights and privileges thereof.”
Cathedral Life Membership and Stewardship
Though the annual stewardship pledge requirement does not apply to those who are Life Members of Saint Steven’s Cathedral, as many have done so, they are to be stewards of the Cathedral.
What happens if I don’t meet my pledge?
As you know from running your own household or business, it is very important to have some idea of what you can afford to spend in any given year. Our parish tries its best to manage the financial affairs of the Church prudently and responsibly. To do so, we need to budget and to project what we expect to receive in revenues for our parish each year. Stewardship is by far our largest and most reliable source of revenue. Please help your parish fulfill its duty and keep our Cathedral financially healthy by submitting your pledge at the beginning of each year's pledge drive. Your pledge form can be completed in a matter of seconds. If your personal circumstances change during the year, and you cannot fulfill your pledge, no one will be chasing or embarrassing you. We all should be realistic when setting our pledges; that is, we have a reasonable expectation we can give the amount we pledge. In the event that you’re unable to meet your pledge due to a personal or professional hardship, we would encourage you to contact our Dean, not only to inform us of the pledge loss but also to receive pastoral care and support.
Similarly, Stewards are always welcome to increase their pledges, or to contribute more than they pledged. Your pledge is simply evidence of your best intention for the year, and having your pledge at the beginning of year pledge drive is an enormous help to the Parish.
The fulfillment of our commitment to the Church also includes our commitment to live within the canonical standards which the Church has established as normative for the life of every Orthodox Christian. Such standards are not intended as limits upon our freedom, but should rather be understood as constituting the very basis for the communal life of the Orthodox Church. These include the following:
Each person must have been baptized and chrismated (confirmed) in the Orthodox Church; in the case of one converting to the Orthodox Church from another Christian confession, he/she must have been baptized in a manner acceptable to the Orthodox Church (generally defined as baptism, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the context of a church which confesses the doctrine of the Holy Trinity), and have been chrismated in the Orthodox Church.
If married, the couple must either have been married within the Orthodox Church, or had their marriage blessed within the Orthodox Church.
Orthodox Christians are not permitted to receive the sacraments of other Christian churches; to do so is regarded as tantamount to embracing the faith of the other church over against that of the Orthodox Church. Any person, therefore, who has participated in the sacraments of another church is ineligible to receive the sacraments of the Orthodox Church until he/she has been received back into sacramental communion by a priest through the rite of Confession.
The Church's canonical regulations are closely linked to its liturgical and sacramental life; it is therefore essential to note that any person who does not fulfill the above canonical requirements is not eligible to receive the sacraments of the Orthodox Church, to serve as either a godparent at a baptism or a witness at a wedding.
Members in Good Standing Hall Usage and Other Benefits
Only members in good standing at Saint Steven’s Cathedral have the right to participate in the sacraments with no obligation for payment of stole fees; may attend all regular and special Congregation meetings, take part in the discussions and vote; may be elected to one of the Cathedral Congregation or Auxiliary Boards; and have the privilege of utilizing the Cathedral’s social hall facilities.”
New Members Welcome!
If you are not currently a member of Saint Steven’s Cathedral, we encourage you to consider joining our parish family. Membership applications and Stewardship Pledge Forms are available through our Cathedral Office. The process for receiving new member applications is defined by the Cathedral By-Laws in the following way:
ARTICLE 6A person wishing to become a member of the Congregation will submit a written application and stewardship pledge to the Board of Trustees. Such application, if approved by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) or more of the Trustees at any meeting of the Board of Trustees and signed by three (3) members of the Board will then be submitted to the Executive Board of the Church-School Congregation at its next meeting and upon the recommendation of the Parish Priest, a decision is rendered. A rejected applicant may re-apply for membership after a period of six (6) months.
Each newly accepted member must strictly adhere to these By-Laws. New members become members in good standing, i.e. have the right to vote, participate in business meetings and other rights six months after they have been admitted at a regular Monthly or Annual Meeting. Transfer members must fill out an application and provide adequate documentation that he or she is a member in good standing of a Serbian Orthodox Church.