Open Welcome, a new resource from Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre, is designed to help rural churches consider how they might use their building to offer welcome and hospitality to those in their community, both residents and visitors.
‘A trip to Sutton-under-Brailes is always a good one! Being in the open fields and fresh air is amazing and very different to Coventry.’
St Catherine’s Stoke Aldermoor is in an urban priority area of Coventry. The church was planted on the Aldermoor estate about seventy years ago and has recently moved from an old redundant church to temporary buildings on a piece of land in the centre of the estate. The congregation is a mix of all ages. In addition to bible and prayer groups the building is used daily for a variety of activities including the foodbank, cooking club, youth activities, parent and toddler groups, a weekly welcoming group for anyone who feels isolated. It is a very welcoming church, full of friendship and love.
For eighteen months I made weekly visits to the Calais jungle. Home to ten thousand people on the move, the camp covered a couple of acres of wind-blasted wasteland at the back of the cement works by Calais’ harbour.
The camp was not an official response to the so-called migrant crisis. Rather it grew over many months as people who had been moved on from other parts of the city arrived and settled. It started as a collection of tents and became a community of wooden huts with cafes, shops and other businesses springing up to meet the needs of the residents that couldn’t be satisfied by the humanitarian efforts of a ragbag army of mainly British volunteers. I went because I sensed God calling me to go and offer the welcome of the gospel to people displaced by war and persecution. Yet on arrival I found welcome from some of the poorest, least settled people on the planet and I found myself asking God afresh, ‘what are you saying to me?’
The Ship of Fools website (ship-of-fools.com) has an interesting section entitled ‘Mystery Worshipper’. The premise: a brave soul ventures into a service at a church they have never visited before and reports on what it is like. The anonymous mystery worshippers have to answer questions about if and how they were welcomed to the service as a newcomer, what the experience of attending church was like, what happened afterwards and, crucially, whether they would consider going back again! All kinds of churches are reviewed from many different denominations with a huge range of styles of worship and size of congregation.
The concept of hospitality has changed down the centuries. For most of us today it conjures up shared meals with friends or the ‘hospitality industry’, hotels and restaurants – places where people ‘buy hospitality’. This latter picture is perhaps as far as you can get from the original meaning of hospitality. Hospitality is about our relationship with God and calls us to welcome and care for ‘those who are strangers, enemies, or distressed, without regard for reciprocation’.
What if the church were to see itself as a guest rather than a host?
This document was passed to the editor by WikiChurchLeaks. Given the interest in fake news, we decided to throw caution to the wind and publish…
Welcome on board! Can we learn from airline cabin crew?
Promotional material for Rural Mission Sunday 2017. Please use these in whatever way you see fit!
Worship material for Rural Mission Sunday 2017 specifically designed to enable children to engage with the theme of welcome and hospitality. Please use in whatever way you see fit!
This resource has been compiled for Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre by Nicola Grieves. Some materials included in this resources are taken from rootsontheweb.com and are copyright © ROOTS for Churches Ltd 2002-2017. Reproduced with permission.