The vision grew
It is always wonderful to hear visitors feel welcome when they come into our churches. When I was approached to share what makes Felthorpe and Horsford so special in their welcome, I was surprised. Not because the church buidings and the people aren’t welcoming, but because what we do is usual.
Welcome became a focus of our Mission Strategy in 2018 following the Leading Your Church into Growth (LYCiG) course. The PCCs embraced the aim: a welcome for all, everyday. This was summarised in our 2019 Mission Strategy as Welcome and Hospitality by God and His people with Welcome to our buildings; being a welcoming people and having Welcome teams for Sunday and all our life event services. The congregations became engaged through the “Everybody Welcome” sermon series in 2019, including one Sunday when we all attended a service at a church where we “hoped“ we wouldn’t be known to others to experience how we were welcomed and offered hospitality. The vision grew…
Unlocking and locking the churches has become easy: I heartily recommend the automated locking unlocking system we have, set for daylight hours.
Welcome signs stand alone at the entrance as well as replacement noticeboards at St Margaret’s, Felthorpe, and All Saints, Horsford. They are bright, professional and a result of a successful Sharing Good News Grant from the Diocese. People now know where the churches are, rather than being hidden away and, with Horsford, there are colourful posters on the notice board visible from the road.
We also ensure the entrance to the church (the porch) is clean and tidy, sometimes with flowers. There are clear notices in this space with service times and weekly news. Both churches have a light in the porch and in Horsford there’s bollard lighting along the path ensuring welcome during hours of darkness.
Welcome notices are inside the churches with a visitors book and cards with Revd Margaret McPhee’s contact details, information leaflets on the church history and on life events which can be taken away.
The churches are clean and well ordered and in Horsford we’re able to maintain the temperature at “comfortable”. Visitors can help themselves to drinks – hot and cold, and we’re introducing individually wrapped biscuits too. Fresh flower arrangements are displayed (except for Lent and Advent). In Horsford church, there is a small children’s area with toys, books and colouring activities with plans to develop this area further.
Margaret, or the relevant churchwardens are often in the church during the week with a warm welcome; it is extraordinary just how many visitors do come in.
People notice the churchyard; is it well maintained and managed? We have posters and information on the flowers and trees in Horsford churchyard which people can use to explore further. In both Felthorpe and Horsford there are benches to rest and contemplate; courtesy of local residents (and list B / faculty).
What is paramount to us all is whoever and whenever people come into our church buildings, whether anyone is there or not, they find a place of interest, history, care, love and peace – Welcome.
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Articles in this issue...
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