How are you welcomed?

Our first topic is… hospitality.

This is more than coffee cake and a smile.  It is about making strangers feel comfortable and valued and welcomed.

Tell us:

Have you and your family been welcomed to a new place– a school, playgroup, therapy group?

What have others done to make you feel comfortable and at home?

Children with special needs can have a hard time encountering new places and faces– how do you prepare your child for these new surroundings?  How do you prepare those whom you are visiting?

What works… what remains a challenge?

Post your comments.  What you have to say may be a blessing for someone else.

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7 Comments on “How are you welcomed?”

  1. Anne Says:

    I am always so appreciative (and amazed!) when people go out of their way to be welcoming. I am not a good welcomer at my church because I am shy with newcomers; I have a lot to learn from those who put themselves out there and really make others feel valued and included. A warm smile and handshake go a long way. I am so grateful when someone puts themselves out there to connect with me.

    • yeah- and my guess is that parents of children with special needs might feel more uneasy than others… “how accepting will this community be of me and my family?”

      True or not?

      • Kristin Says:

        I know the welcome and reassurance I received from the parish when I first joined was a major reason I stuck around. This was especially true on days when I felt like it was barely worth it to be in church, given the number of times my son was disruptive or had to leave the sanctuary. I kept getting positive feedback from older members of the congregation–“I remember those days” or “We really love seeing you both in church.” And it made all the difference. If I had gotten even one dirty look, it probably would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was so hard just to get out the door and to church on Sunday, that I don’t think I could have coped with disapproval or lukewarm reception.

  2. Linda Says:

    As a newcomer to a parish (most weekends)I am fine until coffee hour which is extremely intimidating to me. It is so helpful to have someone approach me and invite me into conversation. How does someone move into an established conversation with people you don’t know…. definately not my gift.

  3. Daryll Says:

    It has been my experience that most, but not all, Episcopal churches and some other denominations do little to make one welcome. I went to church one summer in a tourist area for seven Sunday’s in a row, made a point of attending the coffee hour following, and staying for as long as it took to consume a cup coffee. Only the warden talked to me in all that time.

    From a greeters perspective though I find that I am timid about greeting what I perceive as new people. On more than one occasion I have been informed that the new person I was talking to was a lifelong member of the parish. It is a somewhat awkward moment when that happens.

    I have also on occasion been at churches where I was attacked by a throng of greeters that tried their best to sign me up for multiple obligations on my first visit, This left me a little concerned as to how desperate they were for new members.

    As I am writing this I am wondering if it might be wise to have a “formal” area or greeting place where new visitors could be welcomed if they choose to take advantage. Perhaps after an initial visit and conversation, they could be introduced to the parish at the Peace, or an appropriate time.

    On Martha’s Vineyard , Trinity Church, Oak Bluffs, asks people visiting for the first time to stand and introduce themselves. After the service, several people make a point of talking to the new visitors, and in our case their winter homes were from the surrounding area here in CT.

    • @ Daryll: nice. you are so right. I think that there is a fine line between coming on too strong… and acting too “New England-ish.” I also tend to avoid formalized or mechanistic methods of meet & greet because these programs require a lot of maintenance…
      cripes. didn’t Jesus tell us just to love one another?

      I think that at the end of the day, the best solution is to put ourselves in the newcomer’s place and ask: “If that were me, standing there with that styrofoam cup of lukewarm coffee… what would I what to have happen next?”

  4. Audrey Fan Says:

    I am not a parent of a child with special needs but my mother, now retired, used to work with the mentally retarded. She would take the clients out on “field trips” out in public and the looks, stares, and comments are sometimes heart breaking. I just don’t understand how people can think of retarded people as less than human. They are just as human as the rest of us. I think they forget that just one hit to the head and anyone can become mentally retarded. A lot of my mom’s clients were born normal but childhood fevers and/or diseases made them who they are. In my opinion, they deserve just as much love, and acceptance as the rest of us.

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