Thank you to all who attended the recent Stewardship Afternoon at St Anne’s. It was a great turnout and a wide range of communities in our parish were represented.
There was thought provoking comment and animated discussion. While there is much we can do, we also recognised that there is a lot of welcoming going on in our communities and we shared many stories of this.
Thank you to Mike Gourley especially for taking the time to share with us his experience, as a disabled person, of ‘welcoming communities’. Mike’s sharing stimulated a lot of reflection on our facilities especially and how we engage with people with disabilities (some of which are not visible).
Below is a summary of key themes /ideas and next steps…
Theme 1: Being welcoming and feeling welcomed
- Personal greetings – when arriving, leaving and by those sitting next to you
- Hospitality after Mass – being invited; new people are approached
- Being invited to be involved and to volunteer – everyone has something to contribute
- Being asked your name – and knowing others’ names. (Name tags for greeters, Eucharistic ministers, etc?)
- Good music
- “Come as you are” – be clear we welcome everyone and all diversity (encourage people to be comfortable with their self-identity)
- Doing things together, knowing more about each other (social events, family groups, etc, outside of Mass times)
- Involve young people (invite them to choose a role in Mass; support Lifeteen and eXaLT)
Theme 2: Being welcoming of disability and inclusion
- Personal welcome and concern: greet the person, not just their disability.
- Ease of access – ramps and handrails: to the church, to the altar, to toilets, to pews (spacing of benches)
- Being asked if you need assistance
- Good AV and sound systems – large clear print for overhead projectors with strong contrast
- Voice projection training for presiders/readers to speak clearly into microphones
- Concern and awareness for invisible disabilities
- Warm churches
- Spare wheelchair/walker in each church? Defibrillators?
Theme 3: Wider ideas for enriching our communities and being even more welcoming
- Gather feedback from visitors and new parishioners – learn if they how welcome they feel and why (and why not)
- Ensure liturgy, ministries and roster volunteers are representative of the whole community – invite more people to participate (individual invitations work)
- Te Reo slides with English translations alongside (and slower pronunciation)
- Bi-cultural and multi-cultural signage
- Even more inclusive language in the liturgy
- Grow engagement with the wider community – look out beyond our church buildings (including social justice activities)
- Continue to establish the Home of Compassion as the “joint meeting place” for our parish churches and whole of parish events
- Grow school-church-parish links
- “More lively” liturgies
- “Spontaneous notices” at the end of Mass – e.g. family news, birthdays..
- Gender-neutral toilets
- Individual communities to discuss opportunities to utilise some of the ideas listed above.
- Parish Council& Leadership Team to consider actions to be integrated into current pastoral plan in the New Year.
Thank you again for your support,
Stephen Neal, Chair, Pastoral Council