On Sunday, I take the refuge vow at the Shambhala Center.
the vow is simple:
I take refuge in the Buddha
I take refuge in the Dharma
I take refuge in the Sangha
What it means is that I commit to the Buddhist path for my lifetime. It's a big thing, but an easy one. I have already made the same commitment to myself, have been living that commitment for a little over a year. This is just a public declaration in front of the community I am joining. It is a little like a catholic confirmation service. There is no priest, but there is an acharya (a teacher). There are specific words said, and specific gestures made.
I was a Buddhist before the ceremony and I will be a Buddhist after.