But the hospitality didn't stop there. When our ushers asked others to sit with the newcomers so they wouldn't feel alone, the members didn't hesitate in bestowing geniality.
I know a little of what our guests felt, because that atmosphere, that excitement, that radical hospitality to make people not only welcome, but valuable and includable is what sold me on the small congregation I attended in Fort Worth, Texas, a congregation that has had to start doing two services, because fellowship is not perfunctory, but a genuine expression of love.
My friend and other guests were overheard to say they "loved it!" And I loved that they loved it, and Sunday's congregation is responsible for their joy!
I may be a little bit selfish in my thoughts, but I would love to see this repeated .
Now that I've seen that we have so many greeters who warmly greet from the heart, I'm hoping that this month coming up, many of them will sign up so that we can maintain a full staff.
True hospitality is not a chore, but a service that transforms both the giver and the receiver.
Contrast that with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and why they decided to oust Royal Lane Baptist Church of Dallas:
, and I'm hoping we can keep the energy going. Due to the miscommunication of who was going to greet and serve coffee, it seemed the very congregation of First Unitarian was welcoming everyone who walked through our doors. Not just one " ," and "Welcome," but countless. When someone entered, they were immediately included!
In the same article, Audrey states the vision of Royal Lane:
"I think where we need to draw the line is when ['practicing homosexuals'] are elected to a leadership position," said Leonardo Diaz, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Hitchcock, according to the BGCT.
-- Audrey Barrick, http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100529/dallas-baptist-church-ousted-over-gay-deacons/index.html
Royal Lane Baptist Church describes itself as "an inclusive, multi-generational congregation" and "a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds."
The congregation affirms "the sacredness, dignity, and equality of every man, woman, and child and honor each individual’s freedom to worship God and to respond to his or her unique call to ministry and service."
Sam Hodges of the Dallas News reports,
Doug Washington, a Royal Lane deacon and BGCT executive board member, spoke against the resolution at the meeting in Northwest Dallas. He said the church has two gay deacons, and he praised them as outstanding leaders.
"To say something is wrong with them is to say God made a mistake," Washington said. "I can't buy into that."...
But he said Royal Lane, which has about 500 members, will not be threatened by losing BGCT affiliation.
"I think we're stronger than ever," Washington said.
The church also has been dropped by the Dallas Baptist Association. That group's board passed a resolution Monday, saying Royal Lane has "affirmed a doctrinal position regarding homosexual behavior that is not in harmony" with Baptist beliefs and practices as derived from the Bible.
Is it any wonder then that the Baptist congregation has lost a third of its membership? I would much rather attend a church where I was allowed inclusion than one where I was merely "welcomed."
I was just nominated this week to be a "loving steward" on the Chalice Night Team, to keep Chalice Night, a weekly religious and humanitarian education venue, going. I was nominated by the Membership Ministry Chair, who is one of the founders of Chalice Night, because, as greeting coordinator, I make an effort to make sure everyone who walks through the door of our church is included. Known as the "door lady," I am always holding the door open and trying to make personal comments and greet people by their names when I remember them. I have filled this role two Sundays a month and one extra time last Sunday because it was the 5th one for that month. It has been said that I should teach everyone, not just the greeters--but the whole congregation, how to greet.
And perhaps, now that I'm on the board of a vehicle where that can be done, I shall.
Hugs and God Bless,