“The Welcoming Congregation” Workshop

Written by Jennifer Lewis, pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Western Springs, and Fred Lyon, pastor at Flossmoor Community Church

Jennifer Lewis, Pastor of Presbyterian Church of Western Springs (PCWS), and Fred Lyon, Pastor of Flossmoor Community Church (FCC), are familiar with the writings of Henry G. Brinton. Fred was also a colleague of Henry when they both served in National Capital Presbytery. When Henry published his new book, “The Welcoming Congregation,” Jennifer and Fred talked about it and starting discussing ways to share it with their churches.

At PCWS, a small study group read “The Welcoming Congregation” this past autumn after the completion of a long range planning process earlier in 2012. They chose the book because of a desire to deepen their commitment to extending hospitality to all people.

A number of creative ideas and suggestions emerged, which the Session and the Board of Deacons received as recommendations. As a result of the book being so well received by the study group, all church leaders are reading “The Welcoming Congregation” and discussing it in their respective meetings.

Because of the book, changes have been implemented, specifically intended for guests, so that worship is more welcoming and the campus is easier to navigate. All of indoor signage was updated – members combed the building to identify needs. Now people who are unfamiliar with the space can easily find their way to the sanctuary, the common areas, classrooms, nursery, restrooms, and outdoors to the playground and labyrinth with ease. There are plans for updating outdoor signs this year. Additionally, PCWS has a new communications strategy to get the church in front of new audiences. That includes banners for special events, sending press releases, and a revamped website in the works.

At FCC, church leaders have been reading “The Welcoming Congregation” in anticipation of it being the book for a “One Book, One Church” program in April that is designed to equip not only leaders, but the congregation as a whole, with a shared language of hospitality on Sundays and throughout the week. A big part of this effort has been to invite the author, Henry Brinton, to come to Flossmoor to lead a workshop on Christian hospitality on Saturday, April 13, from 8:30am to 2:00pm.

This workshop is open to all who are interested in attending. Members and staff of Western Springs will be there, and it is hoped that folks from other churches around the Presbytery of Chicago will be there, too. You don’t have to have read the book to attend (but it wouldn’t hurt!). Henry will invite everyone into an interactive consideration of hospitality whether or not you have read the book.

Please register in advance by contacting Di King at dking@fccfaithful.org or (708)708-2800, ext. 23).
A $10.00 donation for light breakfast and lunch can be paid at the door during sign-in from 8:30a.m. to 9:00a.m.

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