Enhancing hospitality at All Souls
May 26, 2010
Through the strategic planning process of the last several years, the All Souls congregation recognized that we wanted to do a better job at helping people feel welcome here, whether walking through the door for the very first time or engaging as long-time members. The congregation expressed a desire for a greater sense of warmth and hospitality in our community on Sunday mornings and throughout the week.
To this end, the Board has identified “Enhancing Hospitality” as our first strategic initiative and charged the staff with planning and coordinating a Welcoming effort that will span the breadth and depth of church life. This initiative should partially fulfill the All Souls Aspires goals related to Community and Diversity. The staff effort is being led by Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons.
Specifically, the Board stipulated that the hospitality project include:
- A staff-coordinated, unified, diverse and well-trained volunteer team of Welcomers for the Sunday worship services and Fellowship Hour
- More focus during worship services on welcoming and hospitality
- Improved welcoming processes during Fellowship Hour
- Visible hospitality roles for the Ministers and Trustees at Fellowship Hour
- Welcoming, engaging and explanatory signage and visuals throughout relevant church areas and similar improved welcoming material on the church’s website
To develop a plan, we first sought to answer three questions: What is working well now? What is not working as well as it could? What should a new hospitality initiative look like and include?
We began by meeting with a group of members currently involved in welcoming efforts within the church and followed up with individual conversations with each of them and many others. We also researched the welcoming practices of other Unitarian Universalist congregations, especially the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Colorado, which is well known for its excellence in this area.
Based on this research and the Board directives, Ana drafted a plan and posted it on the All Souls website for public comment. On May 2, 2010 an open forum was held for the congregation to offer feedback on the plan. More about the open forum.
The new plan, revised based on the comments from that meeting, is available here. It was endorsed by the Board on May 16 and budget requirements for the plan will be included in the budget for congregational approval on June 6.
In putting together this Hospitality Plan, the staff and Board are keenly aware that things change constantly and we will need to be flexible in our approach as we learn more and more about what will best serve the aspirations of our congregation. It is a work in progress. We expect it to evolve as we experiment and consult with the congregation on an ongoing basis. We do not intend for this Plan to be the end of our congregational discussion about hospitality at All Souls. Rather, it forms a part of an ongoing conversation about warmly sharing the spirit of our faith with all who walk through our doors. If you have ideas to share, please contact Ana at email@example.com.