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If you’re looking for a liberal religious community that is a “Welcoming Congregation,” sees the sacred in the ordinary, draws wisdom from many religions, celebrates children, enjoys music, works for peace and justice and encourages every person to follow their own reason and conscience then you may have found your spiritual home.
All summer long, 10 am
Chocolate Bars and
Water Bottles on Sale
Knit and Crochet Circle
Wednesdays, July 9 & 23, 7 pm
Sandcastle Building Contest
Submit photos by September 7
Sunday, September 7, 10 am
I settled on that phrase for our summer worship fliers because I thought it had a little bit of humor in it (we really are very difficult to find!), a sense of welcome in it for newcomers, and a little bit of challenge in it for church members.
All of us have stories about visiting a new place and standing in the corner with our coffee mug or cup of lemonade, wearing an awkward smile and hoping someone will talk to us. I have attended many church services where the minister or worship leader extended a warm welcome from the pulpit but no one at coffee hour made eye contact with me, let alone greeted me or asked me how I was doing. Sometimes – believe it or not – I was the guest preacher on that Sunday, but no one recognized me out of my robe! As much as that experience hurts (it hurts whether we are unknown to a community or the “honored” guest speaker for the day), I have held those hurts in my memory so that I would not forget to look for the stranger at church, move out of my comfort zone of chatting with friends, and risk the encounter with someone new. It never gets easy to do this, but it does get easier. If you would like some ideas of what to say to a newcomer, here are a few of conversation openers:
“How have you been?” (This is a more generous question than “How are you?”)
“How is life going for you lately?” (Don’t ask this unless you’re ready to hear the answer! But people appreciate being asked and being given an opportunity to share a bit of their story).
When we welcome a stranger, the most important thing to do is to be present to them, to listen, to let them know who we are, and to invite them to connect in some way with the community. We do not need to (and should not) quiz people about what they do or their marital status. I always hate being asked, “Did you come with your husband and children?” It instantly communicates that the church is recruiting for families, and I have no real value on my own. Just be present. Your attention and kindness are more powerful than you know.
In faith, hope and love,
~ Rev. Vicki