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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

welcome and welcoming

On Sunday evening, I led a service at church on the theme of Welcome. As it was dubbed 'alternative worship' I let my creative impulses take over! At the front I had the communion table, with an array of cupcakes and the word 'welcome' stretched across the front. Around the church were several 'welcome stations' - using words and images to think and reflect upon the theme of welcome, being welcomed and being welcoming! These included photos, bible verses, quotes and poetry.  Some were displayed using digital scrapbooking software to frame them nicely.

The stations themselves were mainly decorated noticeboards with space around them, although at one 'station' I had pieces of paper where people could write down the things that made them feel welcome. There was also a big pile of bean bags in one corner, as well as a couple of little tables next to certain noticeboards with a vase of flowers, an open bible and a small wooden cross.

The idea was that people should feel welcome right there and then as well as reflecting on the theme in general. So as well as using liturgy, scripture and song we had some music playing in the background in the middle, where people could wander around the welcome 'stations', have a cupcake (!) or simply sit and reflect as they desired.

It was a good turn out for an evening service and as I began the service I noticed a couple of new faces.  One thing I had kept on imagining during my preparations was the possibility of someone walking in during the service.  Rather bemused, I prayed for this 'hypothetical' person during my preparations.  Imagine my quiet delight when someone did walk in during the service and was made to feel very welcome!

As usual there are things I wish I'd done differently but overall I think it went well and people were able to have space and time to feel welcome and reflect on the wider theme of hospitality, asking questions like 'what makes you feel welcome?', 'who are those who are made to feel unwelcome?' and 'how can we be more welcoming?'  I deliberately kept these questions broad - so that they encompassed areas of church, society, family, friends and communities, so that whatever their background, people would be able to think about these things.



I may, if I get the chance, post some of the quotes and resources I used as separate blog posts.  We're having some time off shortly and I deliberately won't be online much, but if I have time (!) I will schedule some posts!

4 comments:

Lesley said...

Sounds wonderful Lucy

Nancy Wallace said...

A really interesting idea, that sounds welcoming and thought-provoking, although the cup-cakes are not my cup of tea, but certainly in fashion just now. How wonderful that the person walking in during the service felt welcomed. I think getting the welcome right is one of the biggest challenges in church services. How do you make it warm enough for the extroverts, but sufficiently sensitive to allow someone to slip in anonymously and not have their privacy assaulted?

Perpetua said...

That's an intriguing theme you chose, Lucy, and I appreciate your description of how you carried it out. As Nancy says, welcoming is an art and we son't always get it right by any means.

Enjoy your time off and I look forward to seeing the material when you can post it.

Lucy Mills said...

Actually, forget to mention that everyone was given a handmade bookmark as they came in - especially for those who weren't keen on cupcakes!

The aim of this service was that everyone could be themselves - given the chance to be quiet or to interact, whichever they were most comfortable with.

It is a difficult balance in church services - particularly with discussion, etc, as some people love that sort of thing and some people hate it! We're all different!

"The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."- Richard Foster