Church membership records


Church membership was not gained merely by attending the church regularly. Rather, it was a particular status which conferred voting rights at church meetings and the right to take communion in the church, amongst other things. In 1817, the process for becoming a church member was laid down in the church meeting minutes: a prospective member should approach a deacon who will speak with them: if he is happy about their character and conduct he or the pastor will propose them at a church meeting and visitors will be appointed to discuss their 'religious experience' with them. A full report will be made to the next church meeting, when the existing members will vote on whether the candidate will become a church member (LEN 2/1/1/1). In the 1850s, following this vote the pastor addressed a small talk to the new members in front of the church and offered them 'the right hand of fellowship'. A hundred years later, new members could be proposed at church meetings by any members of the church, but it was still necessary for a vote to be taken by the membership. Membership could be revoked (for example for lack of attendance , drunkenness, or in one case at Lendal for marrying under a false name [Len 2/1/1/1, 1821]) or transferred to another church if the member moved (in this case the member was said to have been 'dismissed').

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