Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Welcomers

Also called “door steward” in some Methodist churches, but I prefer “Welcomer” as it sounds like an alien. Remember that when an over-eager one, wanting to make you welcome because they have not seen you before, tells you “we’ve always keen to welcome fresh blood.” They probably just mean it’s nice to meet new people and maybe you’ll want to settle in this church.

But then – remember they’re called “Welcomers”. Maybe there’s another reason entirely.  Maybe they really are Dr Who style aliens. Maybe they do feast on the blood of newcomers – bringing youth to their ageing bodies, incapable of regeneration in our nitrgen—rich Earth atmosphere. Maybe they landed from an exoplanet orbiting a nearby sun-like star.

Run! It’s your only chance! Run.

No, you’re right. They’re probably just being nice but clumsy.

But they're a guide to the church. A Welcomer who smiles, shakes your hand, asks your name (unless you're the vicar, in which case it's a bit weird) then leaves you to it is about right. One who points at the books and then ignores you might just be unlucky. One who tries to get your home address and three key skills that you could bring to the church may be a symptom of a church that is just perhaps a little too keen / desperate / trying to be welcoming.

But if you're welcomed by nobody and there's just a pile of church welcome leaflets and hymn books - you might want to try somewhere else. Or, of course, you might be the kind of introvert that knows this is just where you will fit in.

That's the great thing about being welcomed into church. Everybody's desired experience is different. Although none of us want to be welcomed by the Welcomers, eager for fresh blood.


  1. We call them "Greeters" which is a little more low-key. It's a little odd when you've been attending for years and encounter one who doesn't know you, but at least you don't get inside without the proper books and bulletins and hymn leaflet or hymnbook for those who can't see the screen.

  2. Once shopped in an Asda in NE Scotland: they had staff on the door wearing "Greeter" badges, but fortunately, there were no signs of tear stains on their faces.

  3. I was once welcomed into my own church by 2 visiting speakers who asked if I was new to the area. Perhaps I should have worn my dog collar after all!

  4. We call them sidesmen though they are nearly all women. The current Vicar is against too many bits of paper so you now get a hymnbook, the pew sheet which has all the necessary info including the pointed psalm if you want to join in singing it, and a mass sheet with all the congregational sung or spoken parts if you have never been before. The PCC meeting where we discussed the most appropriate ways of greeting people was deeply hilarious and I wish I had read about the 'Welcomers wanting fresh blood'!!!

  5. In our Catholic church the Welcomer (all smiles) is accompanied by another person with a permanently haunted expression. This is the Sacristan, whose duty it is to see that those on the rota for Reading, Offertory etc, have actually turned up (one of the rules of lay service in the Catholic Church is that anyone joining any rota is immediately stricken with domestic disaster and a plague of boils), and if not, to find substitutes. Since most OF Catholics are shy, big-eyed,furry little creatures anxiously scuttling from the light, some forcible persuasion is usually needed and even then the Sacristan sits twitching in her pew, convinced that the pressed ones have nipped out the side door while the entrance hymn is wailing.


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