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Activity 3: Ways to Welcome
Activity time: 10 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- Identify the committee that takes responsibility for your congregation's hospitality to visitors who come to a worship service. Invite a member to come talk with the group for five to ten minutes about the congregation's practice of hospitality. If there is no committee, invite someone who has served as a greeter, an usher, or a coffee hour host. Ask the visitor to wear or bring any nametag or other item that distinguishes their special role in providing hospitality.
- Be ready to model - and guide the children how to show - hospitality to the visitor. You may wish to offer the visitor a name stone to place on the labyrinth, a name tag, a drink of water or a snack, and/or introduction by name to each of the children and leaders in the room.
- Optional: Before your guest arrives, give the children an opportunity to generate some questions for the guest. Encourage the children to ask why the congregation practices hospitality, as well as how.
Description of Activity
From one of your congregation's "hosts," the children will hear about at least one way your faith home practices hospitality, observe that this practice is important to the congregation, and explore potential ways they, themselves, can be hospitable.
Being hospitable to visitors is a large part of our Universalist history and present Unitarian Universalist faith. Invite them to spend five minutes with the class comparing hospitality in the congregation to hospitality at home. If they have special nametags or something that distinguishes their role, ask them to wear or bring it.
When your guest for Activity 3: Ways to Welcome arrives, welcome him/her warmly and introduce the guest to the children. Engage members of the group in helping with the hospitality practices you have chosen, such as offering the guest a chair, a name stone to place on the labyrinth, or a snack or drink. Then invite the guest to tell the children about his/her role in practicing hospitality in your faith home.
If your visitor does not present a role children can play in faith home hospitality, do so in a discussion or "question and answer period" after the visitor's talk. You may say, in your own words:
Just as children can offer hospitality as members of their family homes, they can take a role in offering hospitality as members of their faith home.
Explore with your visitor what some of these roles might be. They may include welcoming visitors as the children welcomed today's guest in Creating Home, serving as greeters with their families before worship or at coffee hour, or simply wearing name tags so new people can see their names. Invite your guest to demonstrate ways to be friendly, such as smiling, making eye contact, and introducing oneself.
You may like to lead the children in discussing ways they practice hospitality toward other children. You can ask:
Is hospitality the same for children as for adults? Are there special ways children can be hospitable to new children, here in our faith home, without an adult's help?
To stimulate discussion, you can ask the children if any of them have ever:
- Invited someone new to sit next to you?
- Invited someone new to join you and your friends in a game or conversation?
- Shared art materials with a child who is new?
- Smiled in a friendly way at someone who is new and said "hi?"
- Shown a new child where to find a place to hang up his/her coat, or where the bathroom is?
You may also like to ask the group:
Pretend that you have just come into our meeting space for the first time. Pretend you do not know any of the other children in Creating Home. How would you like another child to be hospitable to you? What would make you feel welcomed and comfortable here?
When it is time to move on to the next activity, you may like to invite your guest to stay and take part.
Engage the children in thanking your guest for coming to Creating Home.