A few years ago, I attended the funeral of one of the longest-serving “volunteers” for Church Street. I can’t say at Church Street … because he wasn’t in Knoxville. He was the spouse of our caretaker at Sterchi Lodge and served alongside her for 43 years as our welcoming hosts. Roy loved playing and singing bluegrass and gospel music, frequently entertaining guests at the Lodge. In celebrating his life, a bluegrass quartet sang a song that has come to live in my heart … and encapsulates for me the reason I choose to serve my church by standing at a doorway.
I believe at least for me
I’ll see my Mom and Dad
My brothers and my sisters
And everywhere you look are friends
Oh, the greetings will be precious
From those we’ve loved so dear
But mortal man has never heard
The likes of when he hears
Welcome home, I knew you’d come
Welcome home, you’re here for good
Look around, was it worth the wait
Welcome home, step thru the gate
“Welcome Home” by the Gospel Plowboys
Months after the funeral, I was asked to be a greeter at church. Seemed like God heard my new favorite song and was giving me the opportunity to serve in a unique way.
As I take my place in the Welcome Center on Sundays, I think about the people I may see that day. The families I knew growing up in this church, people I have met since I moved back after 35 years away, UT students checking out that “other” beacon on a hallowed hill, and visitors from here and away.
Each person is an opportunity to affirm my faith in the wonderful variety of God’s children and rejoice in how we are all tied together by a common desire to gather in His presence. As I greet people with “Hello”, “Good Morning” and “Nice to see you,” I sometimes slip in a “Welcome Home”. The look on their face changes from confusion to comprehension, then a radiant smile and a little nod … acknowledging that they are indeed home for good.
Kit Brown, Church Street Member and Greeter Coordinator, whose Sunday School class (Open Door) is pictured above at Sterchi Lodge in the Fall of 2022.