What is required for church membership?

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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Several people have recently indicated they became church members. Some first time, some by transfer from other denominations.

Knowing that reformed theology has a "high view" of the church and usually understands church membership as ending only by death, approved transfer or excommunication, what has been your experience?

What was required for your church membership (whether first time or by transfer)?
 

westminken

Puritan Board Freshman
My first membership was in a SBC church and thus was baptism and profession of faith. My second membership in a Disciples of Christ church was profession of faith. Third, was a PCA church and was the answering in the affirmative of the five questions in the PCA BCO 57-5 and written personal testimony. Fourth, as an associate member of the church I am interning at was interview with the Session and the above mentioned steps.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
westminken

Third, was a PCA church and was the answering in the affirmative of the five questions in the PCA BCO 57-5 and written personal testimony.
Were you required to take any membership classes or do any study first?

Did Elders interview you?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Birth, transfer (high school), transfer (1985 I think), transfer (2007). I think. Born PCUSA, transferred, that church became PCA, transferred (that church left the PCA), then a transfer to a PCA.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
In a way, if you are going to be going to our church and want to take communion you have to be a member. If you are only visiting our church and you are in good standing in a Bible believing church, then you can take communion. So I would assume anyone who wants my church to be their church would eventually have to become a member. I was never a member of a church until I went to the church I am currently in now. I didn't like any church I went to until I found the OPC. I even tried the PCA and wasn't willing to become a member of it.
 

westminken

Puritan Board Freshman
westminken

Third, was a PCA church and was the answering in the affirmative of the five questions in the PCA BCO 57-5 and written personal testimony.
Were you required to take any membership classes or do any study first?

Did Elders interview you?
Oh yes, I forgot to mention new members classes for both PCA churches. The new member classes consisted of getting a basic understanding of Reformed theology (WCF) and Presbyterian history. At NSP, the elders did not formally interview my wife and I but they knew enough about me so they felt they did not have to. At NCPC, the elders did a short interview with my wife and I. I was already a student at WTS Dallas when my wife and I joined New St. Peter's so the theology part I was very much on board with and understanding the Presbyterian method of government was basic because the Disciples of Christ use a pseudo- presbyterian church polity. Now, my understanding of Presbyterian polity is much deeper based on the Session of both churches explaining things to me when I have questions. Granted, I probably do not know the BCO as well as I should at this point but this is one of my learning goals for my internship.
 
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Oecolampadius

Puritan Board Sophomore
Our current church's session asked us whether we could provide a letter from our church that would affirm that we are members in good standing. I emailed our former church's pastor and he promised to send the letters by mail. Months passed and the letters never came. I tried to contact the pastor again but he never replied to any of my emails or instant messages. I guess he was never really happy about the fact that we wanted to transfer to a reformed presbyterian church (we used to be fundamental baptists).

Our session decided to take us in by profession of faith. We were first interviewed and after 2 weeks, my wife and I made the profession of faith. We were asked the following four questions which can be found in the OPC DPW - Chapter V:

1. Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
2. Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
3. Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve him with all that is in you, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?
4. Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of this church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to heed its discipline?
My wife and I never went through a new members class but we attended bible studies conducted by our Teaching Elder and we also attended a Westminster Confession of Faith Study Class conducted by a Ruling Elder.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Small world; New Covenant which you noted in your signature (it was Casa Linda then) was the PCUS* church I belonged two in HS and college. They eventually lost their property and bought the property they have now.

*Every time I said PCUSA before, read PCUS.
westminken

Third, was a PCA church and was the answering in the affirmative of the five questions in the PCA BCO 57-5 and written personal testimony.
Were you required to take any membership classes or do any study first?

Did Elders interview you?
Oh yes, I forgot to mention new members classes for both PCA churches. The new member classes consisted of getting a basic understanding of Reformed theology (WCF) and Presbyterian history. I was already a student at WTS Dallas when my wife and I joined New St. Peter's so the theology part I was very much on board with and understanding the Presbyterian method of government was basic because the Disciples of Christ use a pseudo- presbyterian church polity. Now, my understanding of Presbyterian polity is much deeper based on the Session of both churches explaining things to me when I have questions. Granted, I probably do not know the BCO as well as I should at this point but this is one of my learning goals for my internship.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
As a United Methodist...

Do not recall any classes, vows, or examination... we had a formal introduction at the end of a church service (2 families that night) and had a short reception after the service.

Non-denominational charismatic influenced church...

Do not recall any classes, vows or examination or any process at all to be received as a member.

PCA...

12 Church life classes (attendance taken), then (by recommendation) class "documents of our faith" (Westminster Standards/Book of Church Order), examination at home by 2 elders, announcement at church, do not recall taking the vows in front of the whole church, we were offered a formal 'reception' at church but never availed of that.
 

westminken

Puritan Board Freshman
yeah, I know all about the Casa Linda history. I keep looking for you whenever we invite Lakewood over for different services but I don't see you. So you probably know all the ruling elders at New Covenant: Elbert, Larry, Granville, Pat, Col. Bob, John J. and we have a new RE Nader, Elbert's son-in-law.


Small world; New Covenant which you noted in your signature (it was Casa Linda then) was the PCUS* church I belonged two in HS and college. They eventually lost their property and bought the property they have now.

*Every time I said PCUSA before, read PCUS.
Were you required to take any membership classes or do any study first?

Did Elders interview you?
Oh yes, I forgot to mention new members classes for both PCA churches. The new member classes consisted of getting a basic understanding of Reformed theology (WCF) and Presbyterian history. I was already a student at WTS Dallas when my wife and I joined New St. Peter's so the theology part I was very much on board with and understanding the Presbyterian method of government was basic because the Disciples of Christ use a pseudo- presbyterian church polity. Now, my understanding of Presbyterian polity is much deeper based on the Session of both churches explaining things to me when I have questions. Granted, I probably do not know the BCO as well as I should at this point but this is one of my learning goals for my internship.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Well, I'm happy to hear some of those men are still amongst us. I went to school (6-12) with Rosemary Norton and Elbert did the announcing at the football games. My father, Charles (Red) Coldwell worked for the Sun Oil company and I think Granville did too. When I left my the PCUSA church of my birth (Northridge PCUSA, still around the block), Granville and Forest Bryant (the father of one of the REs here at Lakewood) ran the new members class; of which I was the sole member I think. I was seventeen or so, and that would have been 1977 maybe. Cub Culbertson used to be at NC but transfered to PCPC a few years back. I went to A&M same time as his daughter and we were in InterVarsity together.

I think there's a joint xmas eve service between Lakewood and NC; aside from not getting out much because I have full time care of my mother (Alzheimer's) I don't "do" the church calendar thing so you will not likely catch me at one of those. Right now I get to church about every other week; my sister (pastor's wife) swaps out to spell me.

yeah, I know all about the Casa Linda history. I keep looking for you whenever we invite Lakewood over for different services but I don't see you. So you probably know all the ruling elders at New Covenant: Elbert, Larry, Granville, Pat, Col. Bob, John J. and we have a new RE Nader, Elbert's son-in-law.


Small world; New Covenant which you noted in your signature (it was Casa Linda then) was the PCUS* church I belonged two in HS and college. They eventually lost their property and bought the property they have now.

*Every time I said PCUSA before, read PCUS.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention new members classes for both PCA churches. The new member classes consisted of getting a basic understanding of Reformed theology (WCF) and Presbyterian history. I was already a student at WTS Dallas when my wife and I joined New St. Peter's so the theology part I was very much on board with and understanding the Presbyterian method of government was basic because the Disciples of Christ use a pseudo- presbyterian church polity. Now, my understanding of Presbyterian polity is much deeper based on the Session of both churches explaining things to me when I have questions. Granted, I probably do not know the BCO as well as I should at this point but this is one of my learning goals for my internship.
 

westminken

Puritan Board Freshman
Good to hear this. We will have to get together sometime for lunch. So Arnie R. is your brother-in-law. I saw him and his wife (your sister, right) at our Maundy Thursday service. He shook my hand when one of the ladies said I was the new pastor and told me that he was here (NCPC) first.

Well, I'm happy to hear some of those men are still amongst us. I went to school (6-12) with Rosemary Norton and Elbert did the announcing at the football games. My father, Charles (Red) Coldwell worked for the Sun Oil company and I think Granville did too. When I left my the PCUSA church of my birth (Northridge PCUSA, still around the block), Granville and Forest Bryant (the father of one of the REs here at Lakewood) ran the new members class; of which I was the sole member I think. I was seventeen or so, and that would have been 1977 maybe. Cub Culbertson used to be at NC but transfered to PCPC a few years back. I went to A&M same time as his daughter and we were in InterVarsity together.

I think there's a joint xmas eve service between Lakewood and NC; aside from not getting out much because I have full time care of my mother (Alzheimer's) I don't "do" the church calendar thing so you will not likely catch me at one of those. Right now I get to church about every other week; my sister (pastor's wife) swaps out to spell me.

yeah, I know all about the Casa Linda history. I keep looking for you whenever we invite Lakewood over for different services but I don't see you. So you probably know all the ruling elders at New Covenant: Elbert, Larry, Granville, Pat, Col. Bob, John J. and we have a new RE Nader, Elbert's son-in-law.


Small world; New Covenant which you noted in your signature (it was Casa Linda then) was the PCUS* church I belonged two in HS and college. They eventually lost their property and bought the property they have now.

*Every time I said PCUSA before, read PCUS.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Yes; I've known Arnie since I was like 9 when my sister brought him home to meet our parents. Later he was youth minister at Casa Linda and I decided to start going there; eventually my mom and dad and twin brother followed. I forget how far up the ranks he moved, but Arnie got the boot eventually as he was not in line with what was going on at the time (big Charismatic contigency there then). He was briefly at North Dallas PCA (which became First Pres Rowlett) before taking the call to Lakewood, 25 years ago or more maybe now? Any way; that's probably way too much info for a public thread.:)

Good to hear this. We will have to get together sometime for lunch. So Arnie R. is your brother-in-law. I saw him and his wife (your sister, right) at our Maundy Thursday service. He shook my hand when one of the ladies said I was the new pastor and told me that he was here (NCPC) first.

Well, I'm happy to hear some of those men are still amongst us. I went to school (6-12) with Rosemary Norton and Elbert did the announcing at the football games. My father, Charles (Red) Coldwell worked for the Sun Oil company and I think Granville did too. When I left my the PCUSA church of my birth (Northridge PCUSA, still around the block), Granville and Forest Bryant (the father of one of the REs here at Lakewood) ran the new members class; of which I was the sole member I think. I was seventeen or so, and that would have been 1977 maybe. Cub Culbertson used to be at NC but transfered to PCPC a few years back. I went to A&M same time as his daughter and we were in InterVarsity together.

I think there's a joint xmas eve service between Lakewood and NC; aside from not getting out much because I have full time care of my mother (Alzheimer's) I don't "do" the church calendar thing so you will not likely catch me at one of those. Right now I get to church about every other week; my sister (pastor's wife) swaps out to spell me.

yeah, I know all about the Casa Linda history. I keep looking for you whenever we invite Lakewood over for different services but I don't see you. So you probably know all the ruling elders at New Covenant: Elbert, Larry, Granville, Pat, Col. Bob, John J. and we have a new RE Nader, Elbert's son-in-law.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
The first time I became a member at a church was soon after I was married. I had been going to the church for over a year and had assumed just going to the church made it "your" church and didn't know/care about membership, but my husband eventually persuaded me. It was a PCA church and I always took communion, because our pastor said, "A member of Christ's church in good standing," and I assumed I was included in that. I still believe that way but have been told more recently by friends from another denomination that they bet the pastor meant a member of a visible church...I digress.

To become a member, I had to take new members classes and had to make a profession of faith in front of the session and then in front of the church.

When we moved, for some reason we didn't just transfer membership (between two PCA churches) but had to meet with the session and be interviewed and then do the vows again in front of the church.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Several people have recently indicated they became church members. Some first time, some by transfer from other denominations.

Knowing that reformed theology has a "high view" of the church and usually understands church membership as ending only by death, approved transfer or excommunication, what has been your experience?

What was required for your church membership (whether first time or by transfer)?
The most common practice in the PCA these days (at least in the larger congregations) seems to be a prospective members class, followed by an interview with the session or a committee thereof (the constitutional questions are answered at that point) vote of the session, and then repeating the vows before the congregation (following baptism if the candidate has not had a Christian baptism).

My recollection is that the only requirement is the constitutional questions and the session vote. It's the session's responsibility to guard the membership rolls, and they have some leeway in how they do so.

Technically, a person can join the PCA by profession of faith, by reaffirmation of faith, or by letter of transfer (usually from another PCA or other NAPARC church). Due to paperwork delays, it's usually easier to do the reaffirmation than the letter.
 
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Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
First Church was a charismatic commune at age 20, stayed 1 1/2 years, never pursued full membership. Joined a Nazarene Church at age 30 or so, no memory of classes, etc. Attended membership classes at a PCA Church and received into membership after interview at age 37, erased from the roll at age 44 in 2003. Given permission by Session to sit as a communing non-member of my present PCA Church in 2006 (wasn't sure I wanted to join), received into membership by interview and profession in 2007, no classes required.
 

FenderPriest

Puritan Board Junior
Off the top of my head, what I remember is this:

1) Take a 10 week class on our church and our beliefs/creed/affirmation of faith. This is done with pastoral interaction to ask questions and work through issues one might have.

2) Upon taking the class (ECF - Exploring Covenant Fellowship), one has to do a pastoral interview, fill out a membership application and talk through basic things (conversion, life history, etc.). At the end of this meeting, if one is approved (which is probably going to happen if you've gotten to this point) one is officially accepted as a member.

3) One needs to find, or be in, a community group within the church.

Then we have a "membership" Sunday once a quarter or so where all the new members are presented in front of the church.
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
All my churches have been PCA.

I took a class when I was very young to join my first church, then another class in high school when we joined a different church. I had an interview with an elder on each occasion.

To join Redeemer I took a membership class and then had an elder interview, and taking the membership vows in front of the congregation is a requirement.
 

Joseph Scibbe

Puritan Board Junior
I was admitted as a member of my church by profession of faith, baptism. I was then voted on by the deacon board. I am looking for a new church (moved too far away to be a good member) so I will see how other churches do it.
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I became a communing Presbyterian by public profession of faith.

I was also leaving the roman catholic church and they will not give a person as such a transfer to any protestant church let alone Reformed Protestant and Presbyterian.

I wrote this also when I was received into the Presbyterian church.
Although not required I found it necessary on my part to do it this way.

I wrote the following to the elders and the Presbyterian minister and brought it to a meeting I had to be examined by them before making a Public confession of faith a few Sundays later in the Sunday service. It was not required but I wanted to do it.

I have encouraged the other roman catholic converts to do something similar and they have. I do because I believe that a roman catholic needs to reject openly roman catholicism and her pope to be truly free and experience a true protestant conversion after being born again by Gods amazing grace.

I Dudley Davis reject all the traditions and teachings of the Roman Catholic church and as a Protestant I accept, embrace and believe the following as part of my Christian Reformed Protestant faith

I believe in the God of the Bible
I believe that the bible is the inspired word of God
I believe God is trinity, one God in three persons
I believe Jesus Christ is very God of very God
I believe that the Christ has come in the flesh
I believe in the resurrection of the dead
I believe in eternal judgment

I believe in a heaven and a hell and that all who are elected by the saving grace of God and accept Jesus Christ as their Redeemer and thus are born again in Jesus Christ as believers of His Gospel and live the life of evangelizing his good news will be with his Father in Gods Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity.

I believe in justification by faith alone.

I sincerely receive and adopt the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Presbyterian church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures and I submit to the teachings of the Presbyterian Protestant tenets and doctrine.

I believe the Bible as the word of God and the only and final authority and path to salvation I submit in discipline to the doctrines of John Calvin and the teachings of the Presbyterian Church in doctrine and life.

It is Christ alone who is salvation to our souls, not the Church of Rome or the Pope"

I believe in the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, the authority of the Bible alone in all matters of faith and practice and that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

I believe now as the Reformers who realized as they studied the Scriptures that the great central doctrine of the gospel was expressed in the comprehensive sentence, “Christ died for our sins.” The death of Christ was the great center from which the doctrine of salvation sprung.

On the Sunday I was received into the Presbyterian Church the minister asked me to respond to 4 questions that was my formal reception into the Presbyterian church. I then made a public confession of faith and affirmation of vows to the localPresbyterian Protestant church in front of the congregation.

In grace,
Dudley
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
Late 1980's - PCUSA catechism class and membership. I know this would have been a profession of faith, but I don't remember making it (although it would have been genuine).

Early 1990's - UMC letter of transfer solely to allow me to serve as youth group president and therefore on the steering committee (I kid you not). Removed from the rolls once I went to college, but I didn't attend much of anywhere regularly.

2001 - married in a conservative PCUSA, but I have no idea where my membership letter would have been. (Tim will remind me tomorrow.)

2001 - joined the ARP by letter of transfer after an interview with the pastor and later the elders where I gave my testimony and doctrine was reviewed and agreed upon.

2004 - ARP congregational transfer when Tim received his first pastoral call. No classes.

2007 - ditto for his second traditional call (there was an attempted church plant in between), but there was another interview/testimony

The last three all involved a public answering of the ARP membership questions during a worship service.
 
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Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
For me, there was a very lengthy membership class (20+ weeks, as I recall), followed by an interview with the elders and then taking the membership vows.

The membership class was ok, but the rest of it still gives me the horrors.
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
For me, I came to Christ as an adult, so profession of faith, baptism (originally in SBC).
First reformed church was RPCES, and there it was inquisition of the session.
Transfered membership to another RPCES as a charter member (the church was being formed).
That demonmination merged/joined with the PCA.
Was in two more church plants (received by the session in both by interview).
Transfered to OPC (transfer of letter).

Of course all my children were received into membership of either PCA or OPC by birth. Covenant members are members of the church!
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
baptism and the ability to give a public profession of faith consistant with godly living (for those who speak a different language or are deaf or mute a translator or having someone read something while you are in front of the congregation in those rare and extreme circumstances) and willingness to submit to the authority of the church's official policy.
 

harvelljr

Puritan Board Freshman
All my church membership experiences have been in charasmatic/arminian and therefore all one had to do basically is juststart attending.

My last church I was brought before the front of the church and let everyone come up and shake my hand, but no pre-classes whatsoever have ever been required anywhere I started attending.

Having studied the Reformed doctrines for 5 years and having preached them for 4 years I think the Presbyterian churches have the best system of making the prospective member go through classes.

Yet in my dealings with Presbyterian ministers it just seems that their concerns for new members or for their congregations are very minimal. When I first began to come to the knowledge of Calvinism or Reformed theology I e-mailed the Pastor of the church I am attending now and set up an interview and went and talked with him to see if I was getting Reformed theology right.

He told me that I was coming to the understanding of it quite well. He gave me the url of the site Monergism.com :: Classic Articles and Resources of the Historic Christian Faith He also gave me a copy of the Wesminster Confession of Faith/ Larger-Shorter Catechism and I read through it. Matter of Fact I have just read through the confession again and I am also reading the Larger Catechism right now.

Yet a few months later I tried to reconnect with this minister and could not get him to answer back. He has since moved from the church and another Pastor is there. So I tried to contact another Presbyterian minister in order to get him to talk to me and answer a few more questions. The most I could get out of this fellow through e-mail was the location of his church. [I did identify myself and also told him where I lived. Which by the way was only a few miles from the church]

Now I have been attending the church of the first Pastor I talked with 5 years ago, though I explained that another Pastor has it now. I have asked about becoming a member and was told that they have in times past given classes, but here lately the Pastor has been taking on the prospective members in an interview. I was told that he would get back to me through e-mail this week, but no response.

I first began to e-mail him before I began attending and he offered to meet for lunch one day and so I sent back and told him, "Sure, name the day." But I got no response. He apologized for that at church one day, but then promised more e-mails, but I have heard nothing. [You see most people offer to meet for lunch because they think you will not actually accept, but I did].

Anyway I was told by him, the last time we talked after church, that he does not work Saturdays because that is his families time and he want give that up for nothing. Yet I get off work on Fridays at 9:00 Am so I do not see the problem for Friday. But I was told we will get together through e-mail and still I hear nothing.

What I wonder is are there any committed men of God in this world anymore? I would not only give up my Saturday, but if you called on me at midnight I would be there.

I need a church with a concerned group of elders, preferrably in a Reformed congregation that doesn't allow women in the pulpits.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
The first two "churches" that I was a member of were not what I would now consider churches. The fact that I was there often was enough to count me as a member.

The first (and only) SBC church that I joined took me in after an informal chat with the pastor. My wife, who was then unconverted, was accepted in on my coat-tails.

Skipping a lot of history, I was submitted a written testimony in which I spoke of my understanding of the gospel and my personal experience of that gospel, then was interviewed by an elder before being received into the Reformed Baptist Church where I have been for twenty years.
 

Houchens

Puritan Board Sophomore
I too, attended a membership class, interviewed with two of the Elders, then vows before the congration, followed by a "vote of the congregation." I was taken out of the Sanctuary, while the "vote" was taken, then brought back in, welcomed by the congregation.
 

buggy

Puritan Board Freshman
My apologies for reviving this very old thread... but I have a question of concern...

Although I am now attending a Reformed Baptist church, I technically still remain a member of my old IFB church, although the leadership knows where I am now. My IFB church will not approve any transfer to any non-IFB church (and even some IFB ones they will also reject). To my knowledge they also do not permit withdrawal of membership either. So what will happen if I want to transfer?

And is it Scriptural for me to attend another church's fellowship group as well on Saturdays, since my new church does not have activities on Saturday?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
My apologies for reviving this very old thread... but I have a question of concern...

Although I am now attending a Reformed Baptist church, I technically still remain a member of my old IFB church, although the leadership knows where I am now. My IFB church will not approve any transfer to any non-IFB church (and even some IFB ones they will also reject). To my knowledge they also do not permit withdrawal of membership either. So what will happen if I want to transfer?

And is it Scriptural for me to attend another church's fellowship group as well on Saturdays, since my new church does not have activities on Saturday?
No easy quick answers here. Perhaps some Pastors will comment.

I'm assuming the denomination does not recognize any other denomination as being biblical or Christian?

If that is the case (which is a completely unbiblical stance), to obey scripture you might:

1) communicate
2) appeal

Exactly how that will be in form (e.g. written) I'm not sure. You explain you appreciate and respect their authority. God has opened your understand of some of the doctrines of grace and you need to worship according to that. Will you kindly release me? If they formally say no, appeal.

Practically, biblically, I'm not sure what else you can do. If the church is really concerned about God's Word, they will meet with you, have a couple elders and allow you to explain your growth and need and desire to worship in consonance with your beliefs.

As for worshipping with another church on Saturday because your new church does not have Saturday options- I can't see anything to preclude that. Let your home church know of your need and desire to have such fellowship, maybe they can partner with this other group or sponsor something themselves. Make sure they don't have a doctrinal objection to you being in the new group (not likely they do, but you are under their authority).
 
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