Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other, and the Spirit of Transformation by the Reverend Stephanie Spellers is an extraordinary book for congregational engagement during Lent and beyond. Vestry members, non-Vestry members, and I gathered for the first weekly offering of a lively discussion about this gem on Monday, February 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Community Room (formerly called the Multi-Purpose Room). You can order it today online via Amazon.com or check locally with Park Road Books who may have more copies available. If possible, join us Monday, February 24 and read through “Living with Arms Wide Open” before arrival.
Radical Welcome was recommended highly by the Episcopal priest and urban ministry consultant who facilitated our January Vestry Retreat. While we at St. Peter’s frequently speak about and celebrate our beautiful diversity, we respectfully and rightfully were invited to go beneath the surface of the word diversity to unpack its powerful meaning. Spellers offers a definition of radical welcome. “Welcome” says come in, sit down, stay a while; we are honored to have you…it indicates an openness of spirit, that what we do is a pleasure. “Radical,” in this instance, should not connote the unreasonable, undisciplined action some people associate with the term. Instead, radical amplifies the welcome, broadening and deepening and launching it to the next level. It also indicates a deep, fierce, urgent commitment to some core ideal. That’s not just any ideal, but one at the root of a tradition, a movement, and, in our case, a faith.
A holy Lent includes self-examination; may our engagement of radical welcome through reading and even more through action enrich our journey into Christ. I look forward to walking to Easter with you.
– The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector