He Left Without an Address

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Here's the perfect situation: A young member leaves his home-church for a distant city where he has found employment. He says good-bye to people close to him, among whom are his pastor and his district elder. Once he settles in he mails his new address to his home church, and, somewhat later, when he has found a church, he requests his home church to send his membership-papers there. The secretary of his home-church responds with best wishes and the assurance that the membership papers have been mailed as requested.

Alas, this is probably not how it went. More likely that this young member just left, and the home-church as a whole was none the wiser for it. The church-secretary or the district-elder, at a certain moment, may have inquired of the family where the young member had gone, got his new address, sent him a note as to what his plans for his church-life yonder might be. Or the young member's parents informed the church. But my unscientific mini-survey revealed that even that is not what happens in the majority of cases.

We have talked in these columns about membership-loss. These are the situations that account for a part of it. Interestingly, the CRC, years ago, expressed concern for its members-on-the move. In the Church Order, Article 66, it spelled out that the home-church shall mail a certificate of membership, or a certificate of baptism, to the church of the choice of the member who moved. The home church is in a good position to assume this responsibility. You may well want to check up with the secretary of your Council whether situations of transfer are handled effectively, and whether your church maintains helpful contact with the many young members-at-large. Think also of the students who leave for colleges and universities at distant places. It's of great importance for your church to maintain contact with them.

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