Service With a Smile

TEAMS is a monthly series that celebrates those who serve at Hoboken Grace.

When someone becomes a member at Hoboken Grace, they’re presented with a dish towel inscribed with Philippians 2:1-11. It’s a reminder that we’re called to serve one another, just as Jesus served us. But of the 20 people who received dish towels this week, the gift was perhaps most fitting for Raquel, who actually does the dishes each Sunday at Hoboken Grace.

Every Sunday as the last service wraps up and the piles of doughnuts and bagels are reduced to crumbs, Raquel washes each platter, tray and pitcher. She spends hours in the kitchen, working with other members of the First Impressions Team. While the job brings her much joy, it’s the last job she wanted to do when she decided to join a team.

After hearing a message focused on serving, she asked how she could assist the First Impressions Team. She imagined she’d be greeting people as they walked in the door. Instead, the team needed help with something slightly less glamorous: cleaning up in the kitchen. She ended up washing dishes, a task that, as a nanny, she already spends much of her week doing.

“I was like, God, seriously? You put me in a place where I’m going to keep on doing the things that I don’t really enjoy?” she says with a laugh. “But that was for a reason.”

Raquel has served on the hospitality branch of First Impressions since the summer. She plans her entire weekend around it, making sure she’s in bed by a certain time on Saturday night and turning down other commitments on Sunday afternoon.

She begins serving at the start of the 12:30 service, keeping each table stocked with bagels, doughnuts, fruit, coffee, orange juice and whatever else is needed. The job is all part of making everyone feel welcome, Raquel says.

“It helps love the people here. Having everything set up for food or coffee helps people feel loved and just welcome in that little way,” she adds.

As the third service winds down, she heads into the kitchen, washing dishes as other members of the team carry in empty pitchers, platters and coffee urns. She stays until each dish is put away — usually around 3:30 p.m.

It’s the least she can do, she says, for a community that has given her so much.

When Raquel began looking for a church last spring, she tried to get connected in every way she could. She’d been going through a rough time and didn’t want to be alone.

“Right from the beginning, I started going to every connection event,” she says. “And that led me to be like, ‘I want to serve, I want to be a part of this.’ This church gives me so much that I wanted to give something back. [Serving on the First Impressions Team] is the way I can give something back.”

As much as she looks forward to being at 301 Garden on Sunday mornings, Raquel says she still does not enjoy the actual task of doing dishes. But she loves being able to contribute in whatever way is needed — so much so that people started pointing out that she is constantly smiling.

“I didn’t really notice this until someone told me, ‘Every time you’re here, all I see is the smile on your face,’ ” she says. “And I don’t do it because, you know, I’m greeting people or I’m on the hospitality team. I just feel so much joy doing what I’m doing.”


The First Impressions Team

Mission: Ensures that every person who joins us on Sunday morning feels like they’ve come home.

The commitment: Serves on Sunday mornings.

How you can join or find out more information: Email

Want to learn more about serving on a team at Hoboken Grace? Email or you can join a team here.

Follow us

Get the Newsletter