We have reached the end of our teaching series on welcome (you can catch up over on the teaching section of this blog) but in many ways this is only the beginning. There is plenty more to say - and more importantly to do - as we seek to be a people and a place of welcome.
As I suggested at the church meeting last week, there are deeper conversations to be had around inclusion. How we address issues around accessibility, how we talk about sexuality, how we care for those with mental ill health... There are also some really practical things we could do to open up the building as a place of welcome. I recently went to an event hosted by the Places of Welcome network which helps to promote and support spaces which offer hospitality on a regular basis, and a Baptist minister over in Nottingham has founded a number of wellbeing cafes which sound very similar to the sanctuary space I have been imagining for a long time now, and I recently came across the idea of Crafternooon Teas which I rather like the sound of, so already there are handful of ideas which we could explore further.
My hope is that this time of reflecting on different aspects of and approaches to welcome will spark some thoughts and some conversations, which will lead to some new adventures and some new ministries. Everyone I meet who knows Stoneygate already knows how welcoming we are, so one of the big questions for us as a church will be how we make sure that more people know Stoneygate, so that they too can experience and be included in our welcome.
But in terms of Sunday mornings, from now until Advent we will be building on today to think more about social justice. Like welcome, this is clearly something which is already very important to SBC, and so I hope this will be an opportunity to reflect on where that passion has come from and why it is so important and where it is ultimately heading. For each Sunday that I am preaching until the end of November, I will take an awareness day from that coming week as the focus for our thinking, with opportunity to think about what God may have to say about that issue, and also about what we might do in response.