In 2004 my family began attending Trinity Baptist Church in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. We had left a church that we called home for many years but truly felt God leading us away. It was a very difficult decision and so by the time we arrived at Trinity we needed time to heal and grow.
The first Sunday we walked up to the church doors there was a gentleman standing at the door. He opened up the door and told us good morning. As we went to walk into the Sanctuary there was a women handing out bulletins. She reached for my hand and introduced herself. We in turn introduced ourselves and went inside to worship.
Upon returning the next week the woman was again at the door and to my surprise she welcomed each of us by name. I also learned that her husband was at the other door and we all visited for a few minutes. We walked inside with a feeling of comfort and ease and realized that this might be a place we could call home.
The next week the couple was not at the door but am sure we were welcomed by someone equally as gracious. As the service began to start an announcement was made that a couple in the congregation was moving to another location and they wanted to bring them up on stage to pray for them. As they walked on stage I got a sinking feeling. It was the couple that had been so kind to us. I was heartbroken thinking that I would not feel the love that I had previously felt.
Over the next few months we realized that was not the case at all. It wasn’t just this couple, it was the importance that this church put on making people feel welcomed and loved when they walked in the doors. Throughout those months we shared our experiences with others at the church. Eventually we were introduced to a man that would greatly impact our life – Ward Utterback, the head of the Welcoming Ministry.
We were asked if we had interest in joining the Welcoming team. By this point we were very ready to get back to serving and this was an area that we had become passionate about because of our experience. Ward took my husband and I under his wing through the months to come. Our drive to was close to an hour each way to attend Trinity but we always arrived plenty early to pray with the Welcoming Team before the service. We prayed for God to guide us to speak when He needed us to and to show His love.
Finally the time came that God was calling us back to our hometown. He had joined us with other local people that had been praying for a different kind of church in our town. A place that wasn’t about religion but a place that people could experience a relationship with their heavenly father. As we began to pray together and develop it was just natural the my husband and I would lead the Welcoming Ministry.
It has been approximately 10 years being a part of Hidden Valley in Richland Center, Wisconsin and God is definitely doing amazing things in our city. Our motto is …For those who have given up on church but not on God. We average 175 -200 people on a Sunday morning. But more importantly is the amount of people that have come to know who He is and how much He loves them.
We have so many comments on the love that people feel as they walk through the doors. We have two Welcomers standing at the first floor doors and welcome each person as they walk in and up a set of stairs. And then we have two Welcomers at the next doors. One Welcomer hands out bulletins and the other has a basket filled with mints. Each Welcomer either shakes a hand or at least welcomes and makes eye contact with people as they enter.
This ministry has become so important to my husband and myself. We have a wonderful Welcoming Team that understands the importance of what we do. We are so grateful that God placed us where he did all those years ago. For the time to sit and feel loved and given time to heal. And then for the the time that we were able to serve alongside a Welcoming Team at Trinity. They not only impacted our lives but those that walk through our doors here in Richland Center each week.
One more little thing …our church is actually a video venue. Our main church is in another location. Our church has a Worship Team and a Site Director but we watch the sermons on a large screen. After quite a while of being a part of Hidden Valley it was brought to my attention that the couple that had first impacted us at Trinity and then moved away now go to Hidden Valley Dodgeville – our main church. It is amazing how God works.
Rob & Linda W.