There are lots of ways to get more involved and help with the work of the congregation. One of the most visible is to take on the stewarding, greeting, or coffee-making roles on a Sunday morning. The stewards, greeters, and coffee-makers play a vital part in making visitors feel welcome, helping regular attenders feel cared for, and ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible. From time-to-time we review the ‘job descriptions’ of these volunteering roles and the latest updates are given below. Please contact Jane Blackall (firstname.lastname@example.org) to help out.
The Role of the Steward:
Basic Role (weeks where Sarah and/or Jane are present):
The steward should arrive early (by 10.30am at the latest).
- The choir/musicians will usually be rehearsing until about 10.45am so keep the door closed and do not allow people in to the church until you get the nod from the musicians. You can prepare the service sheets, hymnbooks, and any other items that are to be handed out (such as charity gift aid envelopes, occasionally handouts/pencils etc.)
- There are some slips saying ‘seat reserved for latecomers’ in the stewarding folder. Put these notes on some seats near the back.
- The steward should bring a glass of water to the reading desk.
- Once you have opened the door, hand out hymnbooks and service sheets (and any other items you have been notified about), and offer large print hymnsheets to those who need them.
- The steward is responsible for helping latecomers to come in quietly, and find a seat, without disrupting the service. We would encourage you to actually put your hand up to indicate that people outside the door should wait until it is an appropriate moment to come in (i.e. during a hymn and NOT during a prayerful moment). If possible, stewards should stop people from entering or moving around during the opening words and chalice lighting section, encouraging them instead to wait till the first hymn begins. To minimise disruption you can direct latecomers to the reserved seats.
- If it is busy then keep alert to the possibility that you may need to bring in extra chairs in from the hall – make it easy for people to join us without embarrassment – ask for help if needed.
- The steward should keep an eye on the foyer in case anyone comes in late and wanders off elsewhere in the church during the service. You might go out and check they are OK.
- Finally, the steward hands round the offertory bags during the collection, and counts the loose cash collection after the service.
- We keep a record of how much is received and also count how many people are attending each week (this information should be recorded in the ‘Steward’s Blue Book’).
- The amount of collection money needs to be noted down on the A5 slips in the stewards folder, and the collection put in a brown envelope from that folder, and marked with the date.
- The collection money is handed to Juliet, Sarah, Jenny, or a member of the church committee to lock in the office.
- Thank you! The steward’s work makes a lot of difference for worship leaders and is very much appreciated.
Extended Role (when Sarah & Jane are both away):
Check the following are all set up properly (try to do it quietly as the musicians are likely to be practising while you are setting up):
- ensure that the chairs in the church are laid out properly
- the sound system is plugged in and switched on
- the microphone battery has not run out (if it is flat you hear a ‘clicking’ sound – there are spares in the stewarding cupboard)
- the voice recorder should be switched on and blu-tacked to the lectern (the batteries should be replaced if running low)
- get the candles for joys and concerns out of the cupboard and put them on the central table (make sure there are lightable)
- ensure there is a taper and matches/lighter on the lectern
- that the seasonal wall-hangings at the front are neat and tidy
- that the multi-faith banner is displayed from the organ
- Find one of the office keyholders (Juliet, Harold, or Jenny) and ask them to go down to the office and bring up the chalice, and the Tibetan singing bowl with its stick and cushion.
The Role of the Coffee Maker:
- It is a good idea for the coffee maker to arrive early (by 10.30am) and get the kitchen set up before the service. You can put the urn and kettles on to boil, get the mugs out, and a few plates of biscuits, so that everything is set up ready for you to serve.
- Since we committed to being a ‘Fairtrade Church’ we take care to stock up on fairly traded tea, coffee, and biscuits, and we generally buy these in bulk to ensure there are always supplies in the bottom right-hand cupboard. However, you are welcome to bring some extra biscuits or treats, if you so wish. If you notice that supplies of something are running low please leave a note to draw it to Jenny’s attention so she can re-order as needed.
- The only thing that the coffee-maker needs to bring along on a Sunday is fresh milk as we do not generally keep the fridge stocked (you can claim back for the cost – ask Caroline or Jenny).
- Recently we have tried to get into the habit of making ‘real coffee’ which people seem to enjoy. The metal cafetières are usually kept in the cupboard under the cooker hob.
- It is usually a good idea to slip out of church during the final hymn to put the kettle on so you’re ready for the stampede.
- After coffee-time you finally need to wash up (hopefully with help from your friends) and put everything away before you go.
The Role of the Greeter:
- The greeter should arrive early (by 10.30am at the latest).
- Unlock the door by 10.30am (by turning the key in the electronic lock to the left of the door – the key may be up on the ledge above the door) and stand in the foyer ready to welcome people, particularly newcomers, as they arrive. If the weather is fine you could hook the door wide open.
- You might encourage new arrivals into the hall where people gather to chat before the service (explaining that the musicians rehearse in the church until 10.45) and introduce them by name to another person, especially someone similar to themselves if possible.
- If you identify any newcomers, it may also be helpful to point out where the toilets are, mention that there is a coat rack in the church, and point them towards the kitchen if they need a glass of water. You could also ask them what brought them here today, where they are from or if they have any questions.
- If visitors are entirely new to Unitarianism then the greeter might offer some leaflets or a copy of our newsletter to help them get a sense of who we are. Useful leaflets might be our congregation’s current leaflet or history leaflet (or a more general GA leaflet such as ‘Your First Time at a Unitarian Service’ or ‘A Faith worth Thinking About’). Make it clear it is fine either to take the leaflets away with them after the service or to leave them here once read.
- As part of our congregational growth project we are asking our greeters to try and gather a bit of information about visitors and to let Sarah our minister know about them if their circumstances suggest they could become regular attenders. New people are much more likely to return if we learn their name and if they are spoken to by three people on their first visit, in addition to the minister, so do introduce them to others or suggest that they sit near someone in particular.
- Encourage people to sign the Visitors’ Book and also to fill in a green slip (leave it in the marked box in the foyer) to give us their contact details if they want to be on our email list or receive the church newsletter.
- The greeter is also asked to take care of selling church ‘merchandise’ (e.g. mugs, books, t-shirts). Get the box of samples and price list display out of the stewarding cupboard and display in a prominent spot in the foyer or the hall. Give any money received to Juliet or a member of the church committee. Extra supplies are in the office (ask a keyholder to get them).
- We would also ask the greeter to continue their role after the service during coffee time, by keeping an eye on new people and ensuring that they are not left sitting alone nor trapped in an awkward conversation. A simple ‘hope to see you again next week’ can also make a difference to a new person and encourage them to return.