Over the past month, you’ve probably noticed the new Welcome Desk in the vestibule. This desk is manned by volunteers after each Mass, and it’s intended to be an easy place for newcomers, visitors, or anyone else to be greeted by a parishioner or to ask questions about our parish. We’re grateful that such a large number of parishioners have volunteered to be a part of this ministry.
This is part of a larger effort to focus on hospitality in our parish. Hospitality is consistently identified as a key ingredient in evangelization; if people feel welcome, they are more likely to return to a parish and participate regularly. If they feel unwelcome, they often won’t return. Our Parish Survey from 2017 indicated that parishioners have had mixed experiences of feeling welcome at Christ the King, so our Pastoral Plan has several goals related to hospitality over the next five years. Teresa Oross from our Pastoral Team has taken on this hospitality initiative, and the Welcome Desk is just the first in a series of initiatives that will take place to integrate newcomers more quickly into our parish community, as well as to strengthen the feeling of community among our existing parishioners.
But to be honest, the people who can do the most to make our parish welcoming are our parishioners! The experience that visitors have when they come into contact with parishioners will have a big impact on their impression of Christ the King. There are many ways that we can be friendly, and most of them are really simple.
- Say “hello” to people when you see them in the vestibule or the parking lot.
- Offer a word of comfort and understanding to a young parent with a restless child.
- Offer to help someone who doesn’t seem to be able to follow along with the Mass.
- If someone seems to be looking for something, ask them if they need some help.
You never know – this person might be just dipping their toe in the water, or considering a return to church after a long time away. A small gesture of welcome may be just what they need. And even if that person turns out to be a lifelong parishioner that you’ve never met before rather than a newcomer, well, that does a lot to strengthen our community, too! Either way, a friendly gesture goes a long way towards fulfilling our mission of making God known, loved and served