What exactly is a “Member is Good Standing”? As Orthodox Christians who are members of the Body of Christ, we are expected to live a Christian lifestyle which means being active in the sacramental life of the Church by worshiping our God in the Divine Liturgy, striving always to be prepared to receive Holy Communion, as well as practicing the spiritual work of prayer, fasting, confession and caring for others, to the best of our ability. Doing this makes it possible to receive God’s healing grace which will also fill us with an ardent desire to offer back to Christ our Time, Talents and Treasure, that is, by participating in or leading parish ministries (Time), by utilizing our abilities or expertise to help with the liturgical, creative or administrative needs of the parish (Talents), and by supporting the church financially with our stewardship gift (Treasure). Accordingly, members in good standing also benefit by being able to serve on the Parish Council, vote at the general assembly and become sponsors at baptisms and weddings.
Article 18 of the Uniform Parish Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese describes the requirements of being a member in good standing as follows:
Section 1: Every person who is baptized and chrismated according to the rites of the Orthodox Church is a parishioner. The religious, moral and social duties of a parishioner are to apply the tenets of the Orthodox Faith to his/her life and to: adhere to and live according to the tenets of the Orthodox faith; faithfully attend the Divine Liturgy and other worship services; participate regularly in the holy sacraments; respect all ecclesiastical authority and all governing bodies of the Church; be obedient in matters of the Faith, practice and ecclesiastical order; contribute towards the progress of the Church’s sacred mission; and be an effective witness and example of the Orthodox Faith and Traditions to all people.
A parishioner in good standing practices all the religious and moral duties as described in this Section 1. At a minimum, a parishioner in good standing must: be eighteen years of age or over; be current in his or her stewardship and other financial obligations to the Parish, abide by all the regulations herein stated and the Parish Bylaws; and cooperate in every way towards the welfare and well being of the Parish. (Stewardship is recommended to be ten percent (10%) of one’s annual income as stated in Holy Scripture to help meet the financial obligations of the Parish, the Metropolis and the Archdiocese.)
Section 2: Any person wishing to be a parishioner in good standing in more than one Parish must remit his or her Stewardship financial obligation to each Parish as stated in Section 1 of this Article. A parishioner wishing to move from one Parish to another must present a letter of transfer from the Priest of the Parish from which he or she is moving stating that he or she is in good standing.
Section 3: No person shall be deemed a parishioner in good standing while: not adhering to the standards outlined in Sections 1 and 2 of this Article; retaining affiliation in an Orthodox Parish which defies the jurisdiction or the ecclesiastical authority of the Archdiocese; being a member of or practicing a non-Orthodox faith or other religion; and deliberately disregarding and transgressing the moral law of the Church.
Section 4: The Priest shall judge any cases of special circumstances justifying the waiver of a parishioner’s stewardship financial obligations.
Section 5: A parishioner in good standing has the right to attend, participate and vote at Parish Assemblies, as well as to vote in Parish Council elections. Each such parishioner may also be nominated for election to the Parish Council or to represent the Parish at a Local Assembly or the Congress.
Click here to read the complete text of the UPR
Being a member in Good Standing is not something achieved by simply writing a check. It is rather committing ourselves to the Orthodox spiritual life and caring for his Church by being the Church! As members of the Body of Christ, let us all strive to also be members in good standing in this life, so we may also stand with a good account before the Judgment seat of Christ in the next life.