Andrew Atkinson reports on a recent synod event
Jesmond URC gave us a radical welcome for our workshop on generous hospitality on Saturday 24 January.
Despite being hampered by road works and their own major building works, liberally festooned with signs advising us to “keep out” as there was “no access”, the stewards guided us through a back door to the church, which was warm, comfortable, and freshly refurbished. Gallons of hot and cold drinks, and a selection of cakes and butter scones awaited us. This was more like the sort of welcome to which we could happily become accustomed!
The morning, led by Sandy Ogilvie, Kathleen Clasper and Helen Sutton, began with worship, and was well attended, with some 30 people representing churches in Newcastle and further afield.
In a varied programme, we were asked to reflect on an occasion when we had been anxious about going to a place we did not know to meet people we may not know, and how it had felt to receive a warm welcome. We heard the story of Zacchaeus from Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus invited himself to his home, taking the good news to someone who wanted to hear it. We reflected on how welcoming our church buildings and people were, and saw a spoof video from the Diocese of Bristol on how to keep your church safe from visitors (http://www.bristol.anglican.org/2012/back-to-church-sunday-tips-and-resources/). We also considered how we could reach out to the communities outside our doors, starting with those with whom we already have contact.
A number of resources were available, including the tongue-in-cheek ten commandments for guest-friendly church members (http://thomrainer.com/2013/03/30/ten-commandments-for-guest-friendly-church-members/).
This was an inspiring morning of reflection, sharing and learning, and we left with plenty to think about as we try to be ambassadors for Christ.