Walt Lichtenberger—Welcoming a visitor is an inspiring experience

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recently I was in Richmond, Va. for continuing education. Since my course spanned two weeks, I found myself in a strange place on Sunday morning. When I’m out of town on Sunday, I like to look for unique places to worship. So this Lutheran pastor when to St. Johns Episcopal Church in one of the oldest sections of the city. In this very sanctuary, Patrick Henry spoke his famous words – give me liberty or give me death. With great anticipation I was looking forward to being in that sacred space that was instrumental in our nation’s fight for independence.

As something of a history “buff,” I love worshiping in historic houses of worship. There is something exciting for me to attend old churches: A delight to sing the old hymns in old spaces; a pleasure to confess ancient words of faith as others have in different centuries; a joy to partake in the meal from aged vessels that have fed generations.

As much as I look forward to worshiping in old churches, if the truth is to be told, my experience hasn’t been always satisfying....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry

Posted June 25, 2010 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. AnglicanFirst wrote:

I lived in the Richmond area for three years in the late 1970s.

Back then, the people o0f Richmond were proud of their mutual congeniality and their open friendliness towards strangers.

I see that they are still ‘that sort of people.’

June 25, 9:37 pm | [comment link]
2. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks, #1.  I’ve lived in Richmond most of the last 20 years, and many Richmonders would indeed fit your glowing description, but of course, not all.

I’m glad this Lutheran pastor had such a good experience at St. John’s, but since it’s a major tourist spot, I’m sure that maintaining a hospitable atmostphere is something they work at and constantly get to practice.  But being warm and friendly to visitors on Sunday morning is one thing.  Actually building more than superficial relationships with newcomers (by inviting them to dinner, etc.) is quite another.  Unfortunately, the latter is much less common than the former.

And I regret to say that St. John’s is much, much more proud of its historical roots in secular VA history than its spiritual roots in the Bible and the historic Anglican tradition.  Alas, it’s a very liberal church theologically.

David Handy+

June 26, 1:12 pm | [comment link]
3. evan miller wrote:

You won’t find a more historic church than St. Phillip’s in Charleston, SC.  My wife and I worshipped there this spring and were greated warmly, first by an elderly lady in the churchyard and second by another lady in the narthex who handed me a service sheet.  Inside the service sheets were visitor cards, each with a small yellow ribbon.  The card asked visitors to stick the ribbon on their dress or jacket so that the parishioners could identify them and make them welcome.  We didn’t want to attract attention to ourselves, so didn’t wear the ribbons.  We went in and sat in the third box pew from the doors and I got up and went over to a young lady I saw adjusting a speaker by the doorway and asked her if we were intruding inot any parishioner’s regular pew.  She smiled and said her in-laws usually sat there but they would be delighted to vac ate their pew for us.  The family in the pew to our fron turned around and quietly and smilingly welcomed us.  Following the beautiful 1928 BCP Morning Prayer service accompanied by their superb choir and organist, as we passed through the narthex on our way to the door, the rector shook our hands and invited us over to the parish house for refreshments.  What a wonderful experience of Christian fellowship the whole Sunday morning was!  Even without the identifying yellow ribbon, the people of St. Phillip’s were alert for new faces and the genuineness of their welcome was palpable.

June 28, 11:16 am | [comment link]
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