During the holidays we often receive many first-time visitors and returning old friends. Last month's election results may mean that even more people come to visit during the holidays this month seeking the inspiration and reassurance of our liberal religious community. Not only do we need to be ready, but we need to be at our best, showing up on the Side of Love, and ready to meet people where they are.
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, UUA Congregational Life Staff, recently published tips on “basic intercultural hospitality” that we are providing to our ushers and welcome table volunteers. We are providing a few excerpts here to help you welcome newcomers before, during and especially, after services in coffee hour.
Ways to start a conversation:
- Say “Hi, I haven't met you yet. My name is…” (Instead of “you must be new here.”)
- Ask “What did you think of the worship service? I really liked the story…” (Instead of “Where do you work, or what do you do, or where did you go to college?”)
- Ask “Is there anything we can do to make your visit better.” (Instead of “I see you have a disability, here, let me help you.)
More tips on welcoming:
- Greet everyone you come in contact with, not just those you know.
- Ask open ended questions and enjoy listening to the responses.
- Refrain from asking personal questions, including theology and politics. People will reveal what they want to reveal in time.
- Start a conversation from a shared experience, like the morning's worship.
- Remember that everyone has multiple identities and refrain from focusing on any one identity you notice or assume.
This month and every month is the perfect time to live our covenant, being attentive to guests and new members; to seek to understand others with humility and an open mind, and to interact with integrity and respect.
In the words of Rev. Alicia Ford “In our hands is the power to craft a compelling narrative about extraordinary respect…of welcome and transformational community for our Unitarian Universalist present and future.”
Suzanne Perry and Nancy Pinson, Co-Chairs,
Member Engagement and Development