By Al Fletcher
I’ve read about the importance of greeters as they welcome visitors and church members and the kind of difference they can make. Nothing I’ve heard or read, however, is anything like what I have seen on several Sunday mornings this year.
I am spellbound by Gracelyn’s greeting approach and the influence she is having over the congregation, Fairfield First Baptist Church in Pittsfield, Maine. Who knew her approach could have such a profound effect?
Gracelyn is 2.
I wish I could claim brilliance and say that I came up with the idea for her approach. But that would be a lie. No, I believe what Gracelyn does is God inspired and God ordained. No one else in the congregation could execute this greeter’s calling in the way she greets. She is God’s girl, Rich and Liz’s daughter, and she certainly makes folks smile with her special brand of greeting.
“Cookie. Cookie,” Gracelyn says when people come through the door. She then distributes mini-cookies before worship begins. Bob and Cindy, adopted grandparents to Gracelyn, bring a little tub of cookies to church and Gracelyn does the rest. Cookies delivered with a big smile.
You can’t refuse a cookie from a 2-year-old. You can try to tell her you’ve just had breakfast or that she should eat the cookie instead, but her cookie approach is too hard to pass up. Gracelyn expects you to have a cookie. She wants you to have a cookie. She isn’t happy unless you have a cookie.
No one is missed or excluded. No one is favored. She gives to everyone.
Now THAT is a greeting.
In some ways God is like that in generosity. Why wouldn’t you want God’s grace? Each time I’ve seen Gracelyn greeting others with “cookie, cookie”, I thank God for the free gift of grace, for the love in which the gift of grace was given, and for the privilege of being part of the family of God. Irresistable grace. Irresistable 2-year-old. God has blessed First Baptist Church through His Son and through Gracelyn.
May God raise up special greeters in your church.
Fletcher is the Regional Resource Minister for American Baptist Churches of Maine, one of 33 regions of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA).