The Letter

I am withdrawing my membership from my childhood church. Below is (most of) the letter I will be sending my pastor within the week. I know some people will wonder why I’m choosing to do this at all. After all, my name in a membership record file somewhere doesn’t have an effect on anyone’s daily life, least of all mine. People leave church all the time and remain “members” for decades after the fact. When a person is a member of the Adventist church, however, they aren’t just a number. They are means by which that church receives funding and resources from larger the church organization. By remaining on the books I am continuing to contribute to an institution I no longer support, and which no longer serves my needs.

Furthermore, just as I cannot in good conscience claim the Adventist label, I do not think the Adventist church should continue to claim me. They can boast their 17.5 million membership, but I am not one of them. This why I’m sending in my letter:

Dear Pastor X,

I would like to request that my name be removed from membership at x church. I will not be transferring my membership to another congregation because I no longer consider myself a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Furthermore, I no longer consider myself a Christian.

This conclusion is the result of over four years of thought, study, prayer, research, and conversation with friends and family. It is not the result of bad experiences, anger, or frustration with the church as an institution. Rather, after years spent studying and turning over the issues, I simply find no compelling reason to believe in god, and furthermore, do not find in the Bible a reliable or compelling moral guide, or in Christendom a healthy outlook or lifestyle.

I have had many positive experiences with the church. It formed me from my childhood and in that way will always be a part of me. I will take the notions I value the most from Christendom with me. I don’t need the church to love, to value life of all kinds, to advocate for those with less privilege than I, or to live my life with integrity.

You may be surprised or saddened by my decision. I thank you for your support and concern over the years and hope that if you have questions about what has led me to this place you will address them to me personally. I am open and willing to talk, and would like to maintain positive relationships with those who remain in the church.

Finally, I ask that you only inform as many people as absolutely need be informed of my withdrawal of membership, and that you send me proof of my name’s removal either electronically or at my home address…

Thank you for respecting my decision, and my privacy.

I wish you all the best,
Erin

I’ve informed my family of this letter and given them copies so they won’t be blind-sighted by questions or comments from other church members. Now all that’s left is to to send it. I only hope that the church which was so warm and respectful towards me in my childhood and adolescence will continue to be so as I leave, an adult. Wish me luck.

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5 thoughts on “The Letter

  1. What an eloquent letter. I applaud your thoughtful approach to this decision. Thank you for inspiring me. I had never considered your opening statements about membership numbers. It has given me much to consider.

  2. Good luck indeed. You’ll probably quickly find the difference between those who cared about you as a person and those who cared about you as someone who wore their preferred label. This can be disheartening but it’s not a negative, you’ll discover which relationships truly have value.

  3. This shows so much amazing strength and conviction of character. In a world full of followers, you are charging headfirst down your own path, and it’s brilliant.

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