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2909: St George's, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Read this report | Other comments

September 7, 2015

In all fairness to St George's or any other Episcopal church, is it not incumbent upon the visitor to make his or her presence known by smiling and introducing themselves to the priest or the member sitting next to them and informing them that you are a newcomer? Failure to do so is like hoping to be "discovered" as a "star" by no effort on your part.

One of the beautiful things about the Episcopal Church is that they do respect your privacy and will not "glad hand" you, nor do they wear badges that say "Brought One."

An individual with a sour demeanor is especially likely to be left to their privacy, as is suspected to have happened in the Mystery Worshipper's case. Perhaps this person radiated their "attitude." It certainly came through in their written words!

Mrs Michelle Berry

Boat Boy replies:

I'm sorry that you felt that my review radiated a sour demeanor. The Sunday I attended was a beautiful day. I was happy to be in New Orleans, a city in which I have spent a great deal of time. I was excited about going to a different church. The day could not have felt better!

As I approached the door at St George's, I found two persons either side of the door looking very welcoming. However, they were engaged in an animated conversation with each other. Imagine my surprise when they neither greeted me nor stopped conversing. They merely thrust a leaflet at me as if to say, "Here! Now leave us alone!"

I am accustomed to church announcements beginning with: "Good morning and welcome to any visitors; we're glad you're here. Please join us for coffee in the parish hall after service." But the priest offered no words of welcome at any point, nor did he extend any invitation to hospitality.

I am also accustomed to being greeted, at the very least, with "The peace of Christ" and a handshake during the exchange of peace. However, the exchange of peace at St George's was cursory at best. The person in front of me turned and offered her hand but never uttered a word.

Hanging around after the service was akin to being in a busy railway station. There was much hustle and bustle, but not a single greeting. Nor was there any indication of where the refreshments were being served. And the priest was nowhere to be seen. I was brought up not to interrupt people when they are talking unless they clearly want to include me in their conversation. But no one at St George's seemed to want to include me in anything they were doing.

My involvement in successful congregational development has, over the years, taught me that people are generally friendly in church, though often reticent about actually engaging with others. But may I be permitted to say that this is no longer good enough! We need to extend a greeting rather than have expectations that people will say, "I'm new here! Greet me!" and expect instantly to feel welcomed.

That is a lesson that St George's needs to learn. New Orleans is a city blessed with many welcoming churches. Based on my experience, one would not blame a newcomer looking for a friendly, welcoming spiritual home to keep looking.

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