Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Cloth in a variety of light colors
- Permanent or fabric markers in various colors
- Twine or heavy string, and glue, Velcro tabs, or another means of attaching flags to twine
Preparation for Activity
- Invite members of the membership committee, worship committee or the congregation's board to help plan this activity.
- Cut cloth into 8-inch squares - one per participant, plus a few extra.
- Place cloth squares and markers on work tables.
- Post blank newsprint.
- Optional: Post newsprint and list suggestions for "welcoming" words, from the bulleted list below.
Description of Activity
Participants make "welcome" flags to display in a congregational entryway.
Create a multigenerational experience by using this activity on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon.
Gather the group and ask:
- In what ways does our congregation welcome people? What physical signs or indicators do we use to show that our congregation is welcoming? (For example, ushers or greeters, pamphlets for newcomers, or a minister who shakes hands with congregants before or after the service.)
- Why is being welcoming a sign of our Unitarian Universalist faith?
- Do we always know when a person is new? If not, how does this affect how we welcome?
- If we see people we do not already know, do we assume they are not Unitarian Universalists?
- How would our welcome look different if we assumed every new visitor was a Unitarian Universalist?
Invite participants to each decorate a square of cloth with "welcoming" words, to make a collective display to help welcome visitors to the congregation. You might suggest (and write on newsprint) these phrases:
- Come, Come, Whoever You Are
- Everyone Belongs
- Come Play with Me
- Elders Rule!
- Babies Welcomed Here
- Ours is no caravan of despair
- We Are One
Encourage participants to use symbols of welcome, too. You might prompt, and sketch on newsprint:
- a chalice
- a smiley face
- a rainbow
- people holding hands
As participants finish, have volunteers share their flags with the group.
Hang the flags on string. Decide as a group where to display the string so the most people can see the flags as they enter the building or enter the sanctuary for worship.
Once the flags are displayed ask the group:
- In what ways does the entrance look more welcoming?
- What do we need to do to make sure visitors actually find the welcoming that these words and symbols promise, once they are inside? It is the responsibility of just the minister? Just the adults? What can kids do?
- What more can we do to communicate welcome?
Collect suggestions. Invite volunteers to take responsibility for any first steps to advance some of the ideas, listing the steps and the volunteers on newsprint. Ask: How will we keep track, and make sure we do these welcoming actions? Should the list be posted? If the group agrees, lead everyone to show commitment to these promises by signing the list.