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Three churches recognized for welcoming others


Issue Date: 
Thu, 01/01/2004
article reprinted from the UMConnection: Commentary
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January 21, 2004

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VOL. 15, NO. 2

NEWS

Making the Grade

A church must score at least 100 points on the certification checklist to become a certified Welcoming Congregation. Here are a few examples of tasks or functions:

  • Have a welcoming coordinator/team 25 points;
  • Offer welcoming 101 training for a majority of church members
  • 25 points;
  • Designated guest parking 5 points;
  • Intentional seating of guests 5 points;
  • Church newsletter sent to guests
  • 10 points;
  • Renovate or fix up entry or other areas 10 points;
  • Weekly hospitality time (refreshments) 20 points;
  • Newcomer-friendly worship bulletins 15 points;
  • Use an invitational program, i.e., Bring a Friend 25 points.

The entire checklist can be downloaded from www.ignitingministry.org.

Three churches recognized for welcoming others

Becoming certified as a welcoming United Methodist church may become a trend in the Baltimore-Washington Conference if people follow the example of three area congregations.

Ferndale UMC in Glen Burnie, Dumbarton UMC in Washington and Epworth UMC in Gaithersburg have all become certified as welcoming congregations by the United Methodist denominations Igniting Ministry Media Campaign.

The Igniting Ministry campaign was approved by the 2000 General Conference as a project for the 2001-2004 quadrennium. Operated by United Methodist Communications, Igniting Ministry provides advertising messages for national and local campaigns as well as training for local congregations in welcoming and hospitality skills.

To qualify for certification as a welcoming congregation, a church must complete and document a checklist of tasks or functions that it has placed within the churchs structure. Points are awarded for each task or function. A total of 100 points must be obtained each year for certification.

We were pleasantly surprised that we were already doing 99 percent of the process, said Ferndale UMCs pastor, the Rev. Susan Elizabeth Duchesneau.

She pointed out that the certification process gave the congregation pride in what members were doing and that the church took in twice as many members as they did the year before.

The church sponsored Invite a Friend Sunday, she said, and this year it had a small-scale Home for Christmas event. The church is celebrating its 80th year and the welcome mat is still out for use, she said.

Jodi McPherson, chair of the Dumbarton UMC communications committee, reported a similar experience with certification. The church already had more than enough points when the checklist was first completed.

The IM training encouraged us to do more, even though we got 146 points on the application, she said.

McPherson discovered that the committee must work hard to get people interested in finding more welcoming and hospitality things to do.

The church organizes discovery groups and invites new people for meals and sharing, she said. Separate groups are organized for the zip codes the church serves in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Linda DiAloisio heads the Igniting Ministry program at Epworth UMC.

Does it bring people into the church? I dont know, she said.

However, DiAloisio feels that the true impact of certification is on the congregation, making more members aware of the necessity of welcoming and hospitality skills.

Baltimore-Washington Conference co-director of communications John W. Coleman Jr., strongly feels that welcoming and hospitality skills are essential.

According to Coleman,Three certified Welcoming Congregations in this conference are not enough. No doubt there are more churches that could qualify and we will try to help them achieve that distinction. The March 6 Igniting Ministry regional training here should provide a boost in that effort as more congregations learn whats involved and what their capabilities are. (See story on page 5)

If you are a church that lifts up Jesus Christ, you have to be trying to practice welcoming and hospitality, said Kevin Anderson, a member of the conference Commission on Communication and a certified Igniting Ministry trainer.

Igniting Ministry is not just an advertising campaign, said Anderson, a member of Capitol Hill UMC.

Churches who do the things suggested evangelize in as many ways as possible, he said. Igniting Ministry is an assemblage of tools. We train the leaders to think about the tools and how to use them in their churches.

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