Remember when we used to have Hospitality Teams that handled both Greeting at the doors on Sundays, setting up and cleaning up the Fellowship Hour after Worship, and making sure that the newbies were not standing in the Social Hall, all alone and awkward? 

Think way, way back before the pandemic, before social distancing, and zoom, before masks and… so much has happened! Remember when the Social Hall would have 80 people standing around eating and talking? 

It seems like it’s time to begin asking ourselves what programs, ministries and traditions we want or need to bring back. We may not be ready for them all (especially as we are moving into the highly infectious winter months), but we find ourselves in a sort of in-between, liminal space where we can look back and ahead and find the space to ask what we have learned and what it means for our mission going forward. 

For example, I have been wondering if we could organize some Midday Meetings – remember the monthly gatherings of people who are free during the day? 

And I want to regather and get-going the group that had begun working towards Old First becoming a WISE congregation. (WISE congregations have committed themselves to the mission of being Welcoming, Engaged and Supportive in the Mental Health of their members, community and the wider world. It occurs to me that a WISE commitment is also about honesty, avoiding all the shaming as well as compassion and care…)  

Which brings us back to Hospitality Teams. People are enjoying being able to gather in the Sanctuary for worship. And the Fellowship Hour afterwards… We approach it with a new-found appreciation now that we know what it’s like not being able to come together. 

But honestly, we need a system to pull off Fellowship Hour each week. It’s not that hard when everyone is pitching in, but if it’s not organized, I end up riding my bike to buy donuts! 

In our intention, Hospitality Teams are our set up so that everyone pitches in. And that broad-based involvement reminds us, as well, that greeting and hospitality are everyone’s jobs at church. 

Jackie and I, for the Community Life SLG, have done some thinking on Hospitality Teams. We have a new set of 9 Team Leaders: Jackie, Beth, Bruce / Rae, Darla, Kathy S., Nancy D, Suzanne and Pam. 

And, presuming a bit, we also fleshed out the teams with people who have been around, involved, active. We needed to start somewhere. And get started. And we have rearranged the groups and added the new folks

The rollout includes each Hospitality Team Leaders writing to their team members. Look for such a message shortly after Christmas. 

There are still others of you we have not yet been assigned, and we hope everyone will want to join a Hospitality Team. We will create a sign-up system by January 8.  

Finally, as we always insist: Hospitality Teams should be more focused on greeting, welcoming and making sure new folks are included. The food is secondary–  or a means to the greater end of inclusion in our ever expanding circle. 

It’s a fun ministry that isn’t too much of a reach. I’m looking forward to getting it going again…