Messy Churches have all different types of people coming through their doors. How do you make sure that you welcome every member equally and are accommodating to all people, including those with SEND?
Traditionally a warm welcome in church might mean a smile and polite handshake. Jane reflects on the welcome of the Messy Church in Smethwick: I wonder if getting newcomers running relays within minutes of arrival could catch on in Sunday church? Jane writes:
'Today's long-awaited visit to see my local MC in Smethwick was one worth waiting for. Having first met with the vicar some 18 months ago, it was good to go and see what has been developing since starting last September. I was warmly welcomed by a team of MC aprons to discover more about the Last Supper.
One discussion the regional coordinators had at the Round Table in September was about the value of small talk at Messy Church. One person even went so far as to say it can be sacramental and should be valued as such.
A very provocative and yet affirming read for Messy Church leaders is Christine Pohl's Making Room - Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition (Eerdmans, 1999) (recommended to me by Alison Wilkinson from Durham, for which many thanks). As I write I am feeling peculiarly like a stranger and a sojourner as my flight has been delayed three hours and all the passengers for our flight are marooned in the departures lounge of Southampton airport. Hospitality here consists merely of a supply of seats and an availability of food and booze to buy.
Sharing the same air space, albeit merely appearing in the same city on the same day, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, will probably never happen to me again and I shall bask in reflected glory for quite some time. We had both been invited (the Archbishop and I) to contribute to the Diocese of Exeter's 1100th birthday celebrations, he (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury - did I mention it?) to speak in the Cathedral and lead a communion service and I to share some thoughts on Messy Church.