Church is not simply a social gathering, a religious club or a friendship circle – it is a time to gather together and encounter the living God. Church members should feel confident to explain what church is all about and how their faith shapes them. Church is a place where everybody should feel welcome – whatever their age or background.
At St John the Baptist, Timberhill with St Julian's we believe a warm greeting is a crucial first step in making someone feel welcome. If no-one talks to a first-time visitor, they’re unlikely to ever come back. We strongly feel taking time to say a simple hello can be more significant than it might seem. We also feel it's one thing to greet a visitor warmly, but it's also important to make sure that the welcome continues after the service is over and that people aren’t left alone with tea and a biscuit.
What is also important is that visitors know what’s happening in the service. If you are new to our church, attending a service can feel like entering a new country with strange customs and unfamiliar language or vocabulary. Different churches will often have different ways of doing the same thing, so to help make newcomers feel welcome, we try to explain what the ‘locals’ take for granted, so offer a Mass book so that you can follow the service step by step.
The signs and symbols used in the Church’s liturgy provide us with a great opportunity for reflection. These simple elements of everyday life invite us to reflect on the mystery of our faith. Many times we do things without knowing why but we do it any way. Because we have always done it that way and no one ever has taken the time to find out why themselves. We just go through life doing things that we have no idea why we do what we do. So why do we do some of the things we do in church?