The top of our home page states, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here”...and we mean it! As part of the United Church of Christ, we are people of God’s extravagant welcome. The goal of the Welcoming and Membership Ministry Team is to receive people into the First Church community as Jesus would...without reservation.
The whole First Church congregation is involved in the ministry of welcoming by...
- offering a personal welcome to visitors, showing them around the church, and introducing them to others,
- making our building more inviting to visitors and more accessible to all,
- formally committing ourselves welcoming all persons, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, ethnic background, age, sexual orientation, nationality, marital status or physical or mental ability
- letting the larger community know more about who we are and what we offer,
- grappling with what “welcome” really means, and
- doing MANY other large and small things to extend the welcome of Jesus to strangers, friends, and neighbors in Amherst, western Massachusetts, and far beyond.
The Welcoming and Membership Ministry Team has three main focus areas: organizing the welcoming of visitors; building and maintaining connections between visitors and our ongoing members and friends; and inviting those who wish to join our congregation into official membership.
Welcoming On Sunday mornings, greeters give a warm “hello” to each person who comes into the church. Visitors receive a special welcome from greeters, with an offer of a nametag and an invitation to join them at the fellowship time after the service. During the service, visitors are welcomed again with a gift of homemade bread.
Connections Our team further extends the First Church welcome to visitors through a follow-up letter from the pastor, and a phone call or email message from a team member to anyone who indicates that they are looking for a church home. This no-pressure contact gives an opportunity for a visitor to ask questions, and for us to offer friendship and resources, such as information about areas of a visitor’s interest (e.g., Bible study, choir), invitations to church events, and connections to their geographic “clusters.”
The geographic clusters are our members and church friends grouped by the town or neighborhood in which they live. The Welcoming and Membership Ministry Team is responsible for locating a convener/coordinator for each of more than a dozen clusters and offering that person ideas and support, if needed. The clusters are diverse and flexible to meet the interests of the people involved.
Membership Our congregation is honored when people feel led to official membership in First Church, sharing their faith journeys and covenanting with the church community to “walk together in all God’s ways.” Periodically, the Welcoming and Membership Ministry Team, in collaboration with Pastor Vicki, invites people who are interested in becoming members to attend a short series of get-acquainted gatherings. We assist the pastor in planning the worship service in which new members are brought into the congregation, and we stay in touch with new members, helping them to find the ministry team(s) that best fit their gifts and interests.
If you would like to share your ideas and energies with our team, contact Gail Weirick.
Eric Allen, Carlton Brose, Ann Grose, Joan Langley, Jennifer Unkles, Lydia Vernon-Jones, Gail Weirick