With the goal of deepening our connections to one another, the folks who attended Program Council on September 25 explored what it means to “be a people of welcome.” Sixteen or so people joined together to share a meal (not a potluck!) and to engage on the theme of “Welcome,” suggested by the Membership committee. With the first phase of our building project finally complete, our congregation is now able to get reacquainted with our new/old home and spend our energy being together, exploring who we are and want to be, and forging and reforging our connections to one another and to our surrounding community. While still unfinished, our building is fully functional, allowing us to begin to imagine what opportunities it offers us for living out our faith.

While Program Council has traditionally had more of a cross-committee planning focus, in keeping with the vision of being less busy and more reflective this year, your Council decided to hold the meetings in the evening, and to provide a meal, a chance for deepening reflection, and the opportunity to discuss a missional question. The idea is to provide a focus for the congregation and our committees so we can be more intentional about the “why” of what we do, not just the “what.”

After a chalice lighting and some time to silently reflect, we each shared a single sentence describing what “Welcome” means to us. It was incredibly moving to hear how people distilled the idea so beautifully! We then brainstormed “principles of welcome,” such as listening, accessibility, open-heartedness, respect, etc. Breaking into small groups, we talked about ways that we could promote the principles of welcome in our congregational life, including worship, but also committee meetings and activities. Coming back together, we shared some of these ideas with the goal that we can all find ways to encourage our congregation, as Deane put it, to BE an open house. We can live into this practice, of course by welcoming any visitors but also (of course!), by warmly welcoming one another, whenever we meet.

Program Council this year is open to everyone regardless of whether you are currently connected to a committee. Please join us at our next gathering on November 20, from 5:30-8:00 PM, supper provided.
– Sarah Nicholson