What would church be like if this notice was put on all church doors and we actually meant it?
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor. ‘Dydw I ddim yn siarad Seasneg’. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying, to new-borns, to those of you who are skinny as a rake and to those who could afford to lose a few pounds.
We welcome you if you can sing like Pavarotti or are like our Vicar (who can’t carry a note in a bucket). You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing’, just woken up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you are more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven’t been in church since little Jack’s christening.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like ‘organised religion’, we’ve been there too!
If you blew all your money on the horses, you’re welcome here. We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell or come simply because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.
We welcome those of you who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or if you simply got lost in Builth’s one way system and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts and you!
This notice is pinned up in a church porch in Builth Wells, a small town in deepest Wales. It seems appropriate for a St David’s day post to leave in the sentence in Welsh in which, according to Google translator means something like ‘I don’t speak English’ which presumably means we welcome non English speakers.
All I’ve done is make a fairer copy of the text from a rather hard to read photo which has come round on Facebook.
I’m delighted to say that I’ve also been able to verify the existence of this notice and confirm that is still in the porch of St Mary’s Church, Builth Wells. As part of a strategy to make his church an ‘inclusive church’, Father Neil Hook has adapted his notice from a very similar notice which he found posted by Our Lady of Lourdes Community in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Unfortunately I have had to remove the link from this post because it appears to have been the, probably unwitting, transmitter of a virus which is very sad). This post did not reveal the original author but as it ‘s already out there in the Internet world by various means, I hope he/she may yet be uncovered.
So there’s the question: what would your church, my church, be like if we put this notice on the door and meant it? It’s a thought-provoking question.