A Welcoming Church, March 2024

Happy March Everyone,

In February, the whole of Church Council met on a Tuesday night to discuss Thom Rainer’s book Welcoming Church. Below I will share with you some highlights from the meeting, but first I want to invite you to borrow a copy of the book and read it for yourself. Copies are available from Cindy in the church office and also in the church library. It is a short and easy read, but many felt it was very beneficial.

We began our council meeting by looking at the facility inventory results. The two items receiving the lowest scores were Interior and Exterior Signage. These two items will be top on the list for the church leadership this year. The next two areas of concern are harder to mend: Bathrooms and Parking Lots. It will take some planning and coordination, but the Diaconate will be discussing them as well.

The round-table discussions that night covered every aspect of Rainer’s book: Greeters, a Welcome Center, Children’s Ministry and Nursery Expectations, and First-Time Visitor Expectations. Diaconate members took notes of the ideas and input, and will compare those notes at their meeting this month.

Our meal (with special thanks to the kitchen helpers: Jim and Kathy Briney, Nelda Love, and Mary Ellen Lowe) included Rosemary Beef Roast, French Onion Chicken, and a few sides. The Brussels Sprouts Gratin were particularly good and several asked me to print the recipe.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Prep: 45min – Bake: 10min Servings: 10

2lb Brussels Sprouts, quartered 2 Tbsp Butter, melted
3⁄4 tsp. Salt
1⁄8 tsp. Pepper

1 Large Onion, chopped
3 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Milk

CREAM SAUCE (cont’d)
1 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream 1⁄8 tsp. White Pepper
Ground Nutmeg

1⁄2 Cup Shredded Gruyere Cheese 1⁄4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, combine Brussels sprouts, butter, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 13×9 baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until sprouts are tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, in a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended; gradually add milk and cream. Bring to boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in pepper and a dash of nutmeg; pour sauce over sprouts. Sprinkle with cheeses. Reduce heat to 350°F. Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and cheeses are melted.

Our meeting went a little long, ending at 9pm, but the input from the Council was so helpful. We will be Establishing a Visitor and Guest Parking area where 10th Street and Main Street converge. This will encourage visitors and guests to use the North Entrance and the Old Main Entry. I am excited to see what other ideas we can implement this year. Please take the time to read the book and let Diaconate Members and Church Staff know of any suggestions you believe would be effective.

Paul gives an instruction to the Church in Rome; Romans 12:13b simp- ly says, “Practice hospitality.” The word here and most of the time in the New Testament is Philoxenia. Philo meaning “love, brotherly/ friendship.” Xenia meaning “stranger, someone different, unknown.” Philoxenia would quite literally read “Love of Strangers.” What a great concept. It is akin to the Love of God for the world and the motive of the Great Commission.

I look forward to your input,

Pastor Dave