By Jane Angha of www.ministryblueprints.com
“Welcome!” Who doesn’t love to hear those words! It means someone was waiting for you, expecting your arrival and is happy to see you! In my family it means that a meal has been prepared, a bed is ready and time has been carved out for conversation and adventure. Our parishes ought to feel just like that – a community waiting in joyful anticipation for people to arrive to share in the Eucharist, pray with one another and share a doughnut or two over a cup of coffee.
Why does welcoming matter so much? It matters because people need to know their presence is valued and they are valued. If there is anything our parishes can do it is to do that. We create a beautiful environment in our worship space – because people will see it, feel it and it will touch hearts. We offer food and refreshments because it is a great way to connect and to continue the celebration of the Eucharist with others. Jesus did a lot of that. Making hospitality a priority is the best thing a parish community can do. You never know when hospitality is going to surprise and bless you.
I travel a lot for work and have experienced the best of hospitality and the lowest forms of it and survived!
I was headed to a small town in Texas to run a training workshop. The parish was extremely poor and they were housing me on a couch in a parishioner’s home. I got up early in the morning to set up for the workshop and had the most beautiful surprise! A group of men and women had set up the parish room with flowers, pitchers of water, muffins, fruit and a hand-made gift for each person. All the technology was set up, water at the podium and a warm hug for a welcome. I was so touched by their generosity and kindness! That kind of hospitality sets the stage for incredible gatherings – great learning and a desire to do the same when the opportunity arises. I <3 Texas!