One of the most meaningful ways that we get to be a part of our community is by serving and caring for our friends and neighbors. When someone walks through the door at Hoboken Grace or attends one of our events, we want them to feel like they are home, and that’s exactly what Annie felt when she first visited on a Sunday morning. Seeing the same smiling faces, week after week, full of joy, serving food, holding doors, and greeting people made her feel so welcome. In fact, she says it felt, “as if they were expecting me.”
That’s the power of our First Impressions Team. They are an integral part of creating the space we walk into every Sunday, provide coffee to wake us up and they are the first faces and people anyone sees when they join us. The importance of saying, “Good Morning” or “Hello” can’t be undervalued. Those smiling faces that greeted Annie each week made such a powerful impact on her life that she decided she wanted to be part of making others feel as welcomed as she had the first time she came. Annie said, “I chose to join the First Impressions Team because they played an important role in my journey.” And the importance of that team has continued to grow for her, just two and a half years ago she started serving as a greeter, but after serving for almost a year, she has already taken on a leadership role.
As she has moved from receiving those smiles to giving them, she noticed a change within herself. Initially, she served just to meet people, but as time went on, she began to realize that something more was happening—her heart was changing. She said, “It was the smallest acts that had such a great impact on me—whether it was someone smiling, remembering my name, or giving me a hug.” It was those small acts that made her want to be a part of helping others find their way back to God. And as a member of the First Impressions Team she realized, “we are all here for the same purpose, and we are all pieces of a mission that is so much greater than any one of us individually.” It takes a community to arrange food for 1,000 people, to prepare for worship, and to greet guests. When we as members of the Hoboken Grace community serve together, we get to see each other’s hearts, we get to see the people behind the jobs, get to know the people that make up the vital teams the people and who make us a church family.
Annie says joining a team has been so impactful because serving has helped her experience God in ways she never thought possible. Serving on a team gives her the opportunity to love our community by helping people feel welcomed, prepared for, and loved. Serving others has changed her heart to be grateful for the small acts that go a long way, and it has helped her prioritize her faith. Through serving, she has found some of the deepest friendships in her life.
During quarantine those relationships and experiences were virtual, but that doesn’t mean the team stopped serving; not at all. Every Sunday morning the First Impressions Team still met at 9am for prayer. They prayed for all of the services and everyone attending them. Annie says, “It’s been a great way to come together and continue to love our community.” Now those virtual prayers are slowly returning to in-person smiles and greetings again. As we make the transition to meeting in person again, the First Impressions Team looks a little different, but the warmth and joy is still there. The team is working hard each week to make sure we are able to worship in a safe, socially distanced, and comfortable space for all, because that’s part of what it means to be a part of community—to serve and care for one another well.
If you are interested in serving on the First Impressions Team or any of our other dynamic teams that work passionately to serve God and impact our community, visit hobokengrace.com/teams/ or check out the Hoboken Grace App under the “Engagement” tab and click “Join a Team” to learn more. Just like Annie, you can make a difference in the community and deepen your own relationship with God and other people at Hoboken Grace!