We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, confused, well-off or down on your luck. We especially welcome crying babies and excited toddlers. We welcome single parent families and those with no family at all, individuals with special needs and individuals in need of Christ’s love. We welcome you whether you can sing like Michael Buble or just growl quietly to yourself. You’re welcome here if you’re just browsing, just woke up or just got out of prison. It makes no difference to us if you were awarded a Sunday School Perfect Attendance Pin or you haven’t been to church since Christmas Day Service when you were five.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome those with an 11:30 tee-time, and those with nowhere to be, active duty military members, veterans, keep-fit moms, football dads, starving artists, tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, junk food eaters, teetotalers and homebrewers. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, are down in the dumps or don’t like organized religion. We offer welcome to those who think the Earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or are here because you’re visiting Grandma and she insisted on coming. We welcome those who are tattooed, pierced, both or neither.
We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as kids or took a wrong turn on Cascade Avenue and ended up here by mistake. We don’t believe it was by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, vacationers, seekers, skeptics, believers in God, people in need of a God who believes in them, and, of course, you.
* The origin of Augustana’s Welcome Statement is a bit mysterious. It was adopted at Coventry Cathedral in England, but shared with their minister by a friend from the US. Later, the minister of Coventry Cathedral was contacted and told that it came originally from a small church in Wales who simply asked that whenever it was used people would thank God for its writer. We thank God for the writer and for those who contributed to its present adaptation and, especially, for those who strive to live out Jesus’ wide welcome day after day.