Saturday, 16 February 2013

A Warm Welcomer

All this talk of welcoming has reminded me of a welcomer I once met in a church in Milton Keynes.

Let us call him "Norm". Norm was the man given the job of meeting people at the door, identifying visitors, catching up with them and making sure they knew who was who and what was what.

My remembrance of Norm was that he handed me the hymn book before the service, in relative peace and quiet. But afterwards he sidled up, in a confidential but friendly manner.

"Did you enjoy the service?" he asked me.

"Oh yes. Very nice," I responded.

"I hate it," he spat out. "Absolutely hate it."

It was true. Norm hated the services. A stern traditionalist, he liked formal liturgy, proper hymns, a robed choir. In a newish Milton Keynes church, as with most of those ecumenical experiments of the late 80s, he got borderline charismatic tendencies, Graham Kendrick songs and a couple of guitars. He hated it.

He lived for another 20 or so years after I first met him. He never moved church. He never went off saying he got nothing out of it; never decided God was calling him to Fenny Stratford or one of the village churches. Never went off to somewhere where he felt affirmed, or comfortable, or where things were done the right way. Right or wrong, whether he liked it or not, that church was his local church, and he wasn't going to leave it. However his lot had fallen, that was where he was to be.

I'd like to think that when he heard the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant," the next words weren't, "and now Gabriel is going to lead us in "Shine Jesus Shine"". If heaven really is heaven, he'll have got something decent by Newman.


  1. Norm's a better person than i am. If all we get in heaven is Graham Kendrick, I'm off to the other place.

  2. I hope Norm will be there to welcome me and let me stand next to him while we sing something decent by Newman. If it's Kendrick I'll be off to join Perpetua!

    love Mags B x


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