Talking About Gender Inclusivity
Pronouns on our Nametags
If you’ve been around the past few weeks, you’ll know that the Membership Committee is backing a project to raise awareness around Gender Inclusivity by asking everyone in the congregation to wear their pronouns on their nametags. If you’ve missed the resources going around about why we do this and how it helps us better live out our mission to be a welcoming community, we’ve compiled a few here for your reference.
What Not to Say When You Say Hello (and What to Say Instead):
Some friendly tips for coffee-hour
By Lauren Hulse, Membership and Communications Coordinator
If you’ve ever been a new person in a big church (or any kind of community) you may be familiar with the daunting task of braving the coffee hour, meeting new people, and finding your way to getting connected. For the introverts among us, this task can be what keeps us away from church for too long. It begs the question – how do we best welcome newcomers? The answer is, as a community. No one person or team of people can make us a welcoming place (though it certainly helps to have our committed welcoming teams), we must all work to welcome every person who walks through our doors.
But what do I say? I have heard many times that more of us would make the effort to talk to newcomers if we weren’t so shy ourselves! So I’ve written up a short list of suggestions to get us all started. This Sunday, make a special effort to talk to someone you haven’t met yet, and then tell me how it goes! I’d love to hear your stories.
What Not to Say: Are you new here?
What to Say Instead: I don’t think we’ve met. My name is _______.
The first question is a great way to offend someone who’s been attending regularly but whom you just haven’t happened to meet. I’ve seen encounters of this kind happen to long-time members, and it is awkward for everyone. If you see someone you don’t recognize, just introduce yourself! Let them tell you how long they have been involved.
What Not to Say: What do you do?
What to Say Instead: What do you like to do around town?
Not everyone is employed, or employed doing something they feel proud talking about. Opening a conversation by asking what someone does for work communicates that what we care most about is their employment, when really we want to get to know who they are as a whole person. Try instead asking about someone’s interests or hobbies, the things they enjoy doing.
What Not to Say: We really want to have more Young Adults here!
What to Say Instead: Have you connected with the Young Adults Group? I can introduce you.
While it may be true that we hope to attract and retain a population of Young Adults, nobody wants to be seen as a token member representing x or y group of people. Instead, greet them as an individual valued for who they are, and offer to help them get connected with programs that are of interest to them, which may include the Young Adults Group.
Some other things you can say:
How did you find the church?
What did you think about the service?
What made you decide to come today?
Have you met my friend, ________. I think you all would get along – let me introduce you.
Did you know that we have ____________(insert exciting wonderful programming that TVUUC offers)
Hi, I’m New Here: Why We Wear Name Tags
By Lauren Hulse, Membership and Communications Coordinator
Let me start us off with a story: I grew up in this congregation, from around age eight all the way up through High School. And then, like many Young Adults do, I went away to college. The first time I returned to church, I was horrified to find that I had forgotten nearly everyone’s names. Even more horrifying was the fact that no one seemed to have forgotten mine. Navigating the social awkwardness of being questioned in depth about my studies and adventures by so many caring and kind people whose names I couldn’t quite retrieve was painful and embarrassing to start, and stands out in my memory even still.
For those of us who are deeply involved in the life of the church, we may reach a point where we don’t think about name tags much because we don’t need them anymore. And what a wonderful place to be! To be so connected in our community that we know everybody by name. But no matter how comfortable we may feel, we have to remember that every single Sunday at least one brand-new person walks through the doors. Or one person who hasn’t been here for a long long time has returned seeking respite, or welcome, or comfort, or safety.
Wearing our name tags each week is a crucial part that we all play in creating the welcoming and inclusive community we dream about being. When anyone can walk through the doors and greet each person by name, we minimize the potential for anyone to feel like an outsider in a church of insiders.
Another part of our name tag system is that it helps us identify Newcomers – they’ll be wearing a name tag sticker instead of a permanent one. If you see someone wandering around wearing a sticker, take a moment to say hello! Even if you can’t chat for long, as a newcomer simply to be acknowledged and greeted by the community can make all the difference. If you need some opening lines, check out the previous article, “What Not to Say When You Say Hello (and What to Say Instead).”
If you have lost your name tag (it happens to the best of us), simply visit the Welcome Table in the lobby on any Sunday morning. They have a clipboard with sheets for name tag requests. Typically requests take one week for the office to process. When complete, we will hang your name in the rack in the Fellowship Hall.
24 Easy Ways You Can Outreach
Adapted from Art Brewer, First Unitarian Congregation, Toronto, Canada
1. Bring someone to a Sunday service.
2. Talk with someone you don’t know during coffee hour.
3. Wear your name tag at every Sunday service.
4. Tell return visitors that you’re glad they came back.
5. Invite a newcomer to sit with you during service on Sunday.
6. Put a UU decal on your car or home window.
7. Wear your TVUUC T-shirt (plenty still available from this year’s edition!).
8. Use a UU coffee mug at work (you can buy one in our office!).
9. Practice your response to the question, “What is Unitarian Universalism?” (Check out some great responses here
10. Write an article for a local newspaper about a church project in which you’re involved.
11. Host a party to which you invite both members and nonmembers.
12. Participate in a community event that reflects UU principles (for example, Pride Parade).
13. Host your next meeting (activism, work, social event, or otherwise) at the church.
14. Invite a friend to an “entry point” event, like a dinner, Adult Religious Education class, or game night.
15. Tell a nonmember about an adult program or social justice activity.
17. Forward a copy of a sermon you liked to someone you think it would interest.
18. Carry a “7 Principles” card, and give it to people when they ask about Unitarian Universalism (you can pick one up at the welcome table).
19. Promote your congregation’s rental space to individuals and groups you know.
20. Visit other UU congregations.
21. Give a copy of the magazine UU World or another UU publication to a nonmember.
22. If you subscribe to an e-mail list or an e-group, send a posting that identifies an upcoming sermon or event at church that would be of interest to other subscribers.
23. Invite your friends with children to check out our Religious Education program.
24. Tell someone about a provocative thought you heard at church.