I am lucky to serve a wonderful congregation, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse. We are a smallish, vibrant (no ish), friendly supportive community. We are open and welcoming to folks who are searching. We may not give you answers but we will help you find the answers. We cannot solve the problems of the world but we will be part of the solution. First UU is a great community.
We want to invite folks to come join us because we are excited and happy and that just kind of bubbles up and out and demands to be shared.
Inviting people is an interesting thing. It used to be (or so the lore goes) that if you were a church all you had to do was open your doors and people would show up. I am not so sure that is totally true. Still nowadays we have to do more than open our doors to invite people in. We need to be actively inviting people into our community. And what does that mean?
We need to be visible. No longer does having a steeple make you visible. We need to show up in the community outside of our church walls and show up in a way that lets people know who we are. And so our church shows up at parades, and at festivals, at soup kitchens, at fundraisers, at hospitals at graduations. We show up.
We need to be welcoming. We need to look at our building with fresh eyes like we were looking at it the first time. Is the parking lot manageable or is it iced over? Can we understand where the bathrooms are? And are those bathrooms well lit and clean? Or are they dark with chipped paint and rust? Is it clear where people can put their coats. When they walk through the door is there someone there with a smile who says welcome! Is the Sanctuary set up so that you can get to a seat easily. If a family with children is visiting is it clear what is available to their children? Do we announce hymns so that newcomers who do not know the hymnal can find the hymns? At coffee hour do we put our congregational work aside and instead say hello to folks who face we do not recognize? It is a simple as a smile. Pretty much everyone likes being smiled at. All of these things are part of being hospitable.
We have been blessed with a lot of love in our community. And so we are in the process of building a longer table with a place for you. Come on over and give us a try. There is a space for you at our table.