We often talk about the difficulty of transferring membership records to churches that don't have formalized membership. Where do we send the record, who takes care of it, do we just hold it, etc.
What about when someone just flat out leaves the church and requests that their membership simply be cancelled? They don't believe in God, and don't ever anticipate being a Christian again. Aside from the pastoral work involved, and the hope that God will still work in their lives that they might come to know him again, what do we do on an administrative end?
Other than excommunication, the closest thing that I can find is Church Order Article 68:
Each church shall keep a complete record of all births, deaths, baptisms, professions of faith, receptions and dismissals of members, and excommunications and other terminations of membership.
It's this "termination of membership" clause that I'm not sure of. There seems to be a precedent for terminating membership other than death, dismissal, and excommunication. Would this count? If so, then the real question is just what the best and most appropriate format is to do this.
My gut reaction is, after discussing the matter with them, send them the membership papers so that they can do with them what they would like. It seems to provide maximum respect to them as an individual, while still taking seriously the membership commitment they had one time made. In fact, at this point (the question is, afterall, not hypothetical), the last thing that I want to do is make them feel trapped in a bureaucratic process akin to that of cancelling a cell-phone contract. Who wants that hassle, and if it is such a process to get out, then maybe I'd (or they'd) think twice before entering a place of worship again. Cleanly say good-bye, and hopefully we can say hello again.
Is there any wisdom out there, or others who have dealt with this sort of thing in a good way?