12 June 2011

Seaside placement update

Today is Sunday, traditionally held to be the only day of the week when vicars actually do any work. Having been highlighted during the 10am service as 'our student on placement' and also as 'son in law of Fr Andrew', I had no shortage of people who wanted to talk to me over coffee. It's a peculiar thing I've noticed before in even the most lovely of churches; when you're identified as someone in a parish, you're suddenly inundated with greetings and interest.

I have been to many services at the church, as my father-in-law is a member of the ministry team. DrLanky is known to those who've been around since before she went off to uni, and I've always just been the husband-of and son-in-law-of someone else. I'm not saying I haven't been welcomed in the past, but I simply notice a difference in welcome when you're identified as someone.

The same thing happened at my attachment parish when I first arrived. People are perfectly civil and polite to you, but when they find out who you are, there's a queue of people who want to talk with you.

What would it be like if churches greeted everyone who we didn't recognise as if they were someone? Sure, some would run for the hills, but I'm guessing most would be flattered and affirmed. What do you think?


  1. I totally agree I think. I'm hopeless in new places and used to make a conscious effort while I was settled in chaplaincy to talk to new faces cos I know how hard I find it. I've been in Cambridge almost 10months now and still am not settled in a church (not just because of this, to be fair, but it is a factor). I totally appreciate the need to catch up with existing friends while you are church, but I dont think enough people keep an eye out for the new face loitering in the background not wanting to butt into a conversation.

  2. My church is very welcoming to newcomers - but mostly at the coffee break after the service. This means people have already come in on their own and have to be brave enough to come to where coffee is served before they get a proper welcome. But on the other hand some people are put off by being approached first thing - a difficult balance to get right I think.