From the warden - April 2022
It is often seen in the bible that Jesus often walked with those on the edges of “acceptable” society at the time, the outcasts. I know that I am guilty myself of making quick judgements when I meet someone new, and in the speed that the world moves today I think it is something we are all guilty of to some degree. I have read that apparently within the first 7 seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are – and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness.
It also reminds me of a story I read very recently of a priest due to arrive in his new parish. He dressed as a homeless person and turned up at his future church for a few weeks before his official arrival. He was distressed as to how badly he was treated by a majority of the members of his new parish. Once it was revealed that the homeless man was actually the new Priest there was much embarrassment throughout the church membership, and systems were put in place to make sure all new visitors, whether well heeled or those on the margins of society were welcomed and treated as equals.
This is a very long way of me introducing my thoughts for April. I was recently able to visit Coventry Cathedral and was very intrigued by the welcome notice outside the “new” Cathedral. It made me think of how we treat people especially someone new to StC when they walk in the door. Do we welcome them with open arms or do we instantly make a judgement. If we do make impressions within 7 seconds I think we know the answer to that. Even if that judgement is kept to ourselves we will always have it in the back of our minds.
So as we come to the Easter Celebration, we may find we have visitors to our church, old friends returning, possible future friends dipping their toes in the StC waters for the first time or some one time visitors who have found the church while staying in the area for a short time. If so I hope we can be as welcoming as possible to them, and when they leave us they will have good memories of the time they have spent worshipping with us.
Coventry Cathedral have informed me that they do not own the message content for the welcome they give so are happy for me to share it on our website. The welcome at the door reads as follows;
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, confused, well-heeled or down-at-heel. We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers. We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You're welcome here if you're just browsing, just woken up or just got out of prison. We don't care if you're more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven't been to church since Christmas 10 years ago. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast.
We welcome keep-fit moms, football dads, starving artists, tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, junk food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you're having problems, are down in the dumps or don't like organized religion. We're not that keen on it either. We offer welcome to those who think the Earth is flat, work too hard, don't work, can't spell, or are here because Granny is visiting and wanted to come to the cathedral. We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither.
We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as kids or got lost on the Ring Road and wound up here by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters and you.
Just a thought. which if any of the descriptions in the invitation above describes you best?