The Parish Welcoming Committee plays a central role in helping our parishes become more vibrant and welcoming communities. The welcoming committee is the face and heart of the parish to new members, visitors and even other members of the parish. They help to build up the Body of Christ by helping to increase the membership and making them feel that they are an important part of Christ’s living body, the Church. They are an example of Christian community building at its best.
Some of the tasks of a welcoming committee:
- Invite parishioners to join the committee. Depending on the parish size the committee could be from 4 to 30 people. It would be a good idea to have membership based on a rotational model with a 2 or 3 year commitment so that members don’t feel ‘locked’ into the ministry and to give others an opportunity to be a part of it.
- Membership should be representative of all age groups from teens to seniors. Newcomers will also be of all ages and will generally find it easier to relate to someone their own age.
- Educate the committee. It would be advantageous to invite an expert to teach the committee how to be effective in their role.
- Prepare and distribute welcoming kits.
- Keep track of new parishioners with the assistance of the parish priest and keep in touch with them.
- Organize an annual dinner in which new parishioners are honoured and given the opportunity to meet other parishioners.
- Prepare coffee, tea and snacks for fellowship after Divine Liturgies. This should not be left to one person. A sub-committee of the welcoming committee could be responsible for this.
- Greet people in the narthex as they arrive. Hand them a bulletin and give them a big smile. Be ready to answer any questions that newcomers may have.
- After Divine Liturgy, invite visitors, new members and parishioners to coffee and fellowship. Introduce them to other parishioners and spend time with them.
- Meet monthly as a committee. Discuss how effectively the committee is operating, plan events or activities, pray for new parishioners and support each other in difficult situations that anyone may have encountered.
- A web page on the parish web site should be devoted to the welcoming committee. Contact information, events, etc. would be listed there. Photos of past events and committee members would be useful in helping new members recognize who the members are and what they do. It should include an online registration form.
- Ensure that there are short forms for basic contact information in the church and that possible new parishioners have easy access to them. Later, the parish office can provide the comprehensive parish registration forms if that is the desire of the possible new parishioners.
- Help all the parishioners understand that welcoming others is everyone’s role. If the love of Christ is truly within them, it will manifest itself to all who join them in worship and fellowship.
- Incorporate a ministry to the sick of the parish. Visits to the shut-ins, bringing them Holy Communion, special treats, etc. would be part of it. Visits to those in hospital, especially those who have no family to care for them.
- Consider initiating an outreach to those parishioners who have fallen away or who have minimized their attendance at Divine Liturgies.
- Consider establishing a group whose ministry would be to heal rifts between groups and people in the parish.
“The biggest disease is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.” – Blessed Mother Theresa