Ushers are those individuals who help create an environment of hospitality during worship. They allow for worship to flow and for worshipers to relax. It’s a simple and uncomplicated form of serving that’s a gift to everybody else who walks through the sanctuary doors.
Sunday volunteers embody the spirit of Radical Hospitality that is a strong core value at St. Paul. They make it readily known that everyone counts, everyone matters, and every single person who walks through that door is cared for.
Building Community: Pat Baldwin
From the time Pat Baldwin first moved to the Quad Cities for a new job last year, he has been found positioned not too far from the front doors. Whether soaking in the beautiful fall sunshine while having a joyful chat with arriving churchgoers or armed with an umbrella while meeting folks at their car doors, jacket soaked with rain, he is always ready with a friendly greeting and no shortage of meaningful conversation.
“I come to church early and I don’t leave until later and I love every minute of it,” Pat said emphatically. “I always want everyone to feel welcome so I felt like greeting and ushering is something I could really do. As people come in, I say ‘hello’ and I look for that person that’s either alone or looking down to say ‘Hey! Good morning!’ because you never know, you never know who hasn’t had a good day, who’s lonely.”
It would be easy to believe that Pat has been a member of St. Paul for many years but he says volunteering has given him a connection to the church and St. Paul people that make him feel deeply ingrained in the community.
“It’s about the people. I am a big ‘village’ type person – it takes a village,” Pat said. “Being part of the community is important to me so naturally this church and its community, I love it. I needed a purpose in life now that my son is older and moved away, this church is my purpose. I’m going to do whatever I can to help build this church up because I love it and the people so much.”
Pat is passionate about showing his appreciation for the church and various organizations he is part of through action.
“I just enjoy being here and being around the people in the church,” said Pat. “The one thing I really feel about this church is God’s love. Some places talk about sharing God’s love but St. Paul does it.”
If he could create his own bumper sticker, he said it would be “Life is an adventure, experience it.” And that’s exactly what he’s doing through his volunteerism at St. Paul.
Building Connection: Anke Maas & Denny Reichenbacher
Stepping through the Sanctuary doors just before the 9 a.m. Sunday service, you’re bound to see the charismatic faces of Anke Maas and Denny Reichenbacher. And for Anke and Denny, it’s the connections with other St. Paul members that bring them the most enjoyment.
“You’re one of the first faces that people see when they come in and the smile you can bring to people’s faces is awesome,” Anke said. “You can see the eyes smile even with the masks! It’s such a joy.”
Both Denny and Anke have strong backgrounds in service to their faith, Anke working with and volunteering for numerous youth programs at her home church in Dewitt, and Denny beginning ushering as a young child then later serving as the head of the Christian Education Committee at his former place of worship.
“My dad had me ushering when I was in third grade. My dad was one of the ushers at the church I grew up in and he told me I needed to start doing something other than drawing on the bulletin,” Denny joked. “I ushered there through high school.”
And for Denny, his career as a funeral director, having worked with St. Paul prior to joining the church, made ushering a natural fit for him, and an activity that he and Anke love doing together.
“You meet so many new people and you start to remember faces. The group you usher with and the people you see on Sundays, you get to know each other and connect over hobbies and shared interests,” Anke and Denny said. “Even the younger kids – it’s something we can do together. It’s a great introduction and you see so many St. Paul people you recognize outside of the church.”
“Seeing people as they come in on Sundays… it’s absolutely wonderful,” said Denny. And Anke agrees. “It’s amazing.”
Building Tradition: Linda Creighton, Jayden Creighton-Lovel, Isabelle Lovel
When Linda Creighton joined St. Paul four years ago, she wanted to find a way to volunteer right away. With her background in hospitality, Linda knew ushering be the best way to give back to the church community but it was the insistence of two special members of her family that has made the experience extra meaningful. Linda’s two granddaughters, 13-year-old Jayden and 9-year-old Isabelle, are now right by her side most Sundays, handing out programs, greeting people as they enter, and making memories with their grandma.
“They came to church with me and watched me volunteer. I could see the seed planted and growing,” Linda said. “First, the girls started volunteering on Sundays, and then they wanted to help with Madison Market. They ask to spend their summers loading people’s cars with food.”
It was after watching her big sister Jayden help their grandma usher that Isabelle was inspired to continue the tradition.
“I kept bugging my grandma about helping,” said Isabelle. “It looked fun, giving the baskets to people and collecting everything. I wanted to spend time with my grandma and my sister. Sometimes, even when I’m not ushering, I still end up helping out.”
Linda, Jayden, and Isabelle have created a strong tradition that will carry on. Bringing joy to all three.
“I feel like I’m making God happy, making my grandma happy, and volunteering makes me happy, too,” Jayden said. “Here (at St. Paul) I can be a kid and still do something good, make a difference.”
To those who aren’t sure if ushering is for them, Linda has a few words of encouragement.
“Give it a shot, you don’t have to commit but try it,” she said. “I guarantee you’ll get the itch to continue, just like Isabelle and Jayden did. You’re going to want to give back to the Lord and it’s the perfect way to do that.”
Will this tradition continue? These three sure think so.
“Our 4-year-old little sister, Hermione, sees us helping and she wants to help too,” Jayden said. “In time we think she’ll help to usher with us and then become an acolyte like me.”
There’s a place for you to serve. With four weekend worship services, St. Paul needs to grow the ranks of people open to ushering. All ages welcome. Consider it seriously, if you haven’t before, or if you’ve recently taken a break from ushering. Here’s what you need to know:
Contact Becky Harper (email@example.com) if you’ve not served before. She’ll ensure that all newcomers get set up with a “mentor” on their first day, so someone can guide you through the most basic duties. It’s not fancy training!
1. Every week, the full roster of ushers will receive an email that lists the coming four weekends (i.e. holiday services) when worship occurs. All recipients of the email will be able to view the latest ushering options through this rolling four-week notification.
2. Clicking on a link within that email will automatically send recipients to a Google doc where they can see which worship services are full and which ones have need or openings.
3. By placing your name where there is an opening, you secure the date and service time that works for you (and can then mark your personal calendar).
4. That’s it!
One comment on “Radical hospitality”
Sincere gratitude for all the ushers at St Paul and all they do come rain, shine or snow!