“Nuggets for nudging” from the MC Alberta Bridge Building Network

“Nuggets for nudging” from the MC Alberta Bridge Building Network

During our July Bridge Building Network virtual gathering, we addressed two questions: 
--What is happening in our communities during the summer months where we might have the opportunity to “show up” as guests, or welcome guests into our midst. 
--How do we create or experience belonging in our spaces?

The Idea list below shares some of the events happening in our communities:  have a look and try to attend at least one! Or something similar.

In seeking answers to the second question, we came up with words and ideas that encapsulate belonging.
The first word is  “friendly”. One participant shared that their congregation went through a rough spell where several families left because, among a number of reasons, they did not experience the  church as friendly – in fact it was experienced as judgmental. This led the congregation to do some soul-searching, and to intentionally adopt a spirit of friendliness.  Those gifted with the ability to warmly welcome both old-comers and newcomers were affirmed for their gift. The church intentionally changed their behaviour, and are now welcoming a diversity of people who name friendliness as one characteristic of the church community. 
From that we recognized that “acceptance” is a key part of belonging. One way to display acceptance is by inviting someone to play a role. When someone has a role to play, be it reading scripture, singing in the singing group, being part of the church cleaning roster, knotting quilts, it demonstrates that they are accepted and trusted.

The story above led another participant to suggest that this “gift of hospitality” is perhaps even
more important than well-organized programming when it comes to including people.
Indeed, hospitality is one of our core words in our Bridge Building framework when it comes to embracing diversity of faith and culture. Hospitality captures all aspects of genuine friendliness and acceptance for inclusion. As one participant admitted, “It is work and it takes effort,”  but It ultimately creates a sense of safety for the new person coming into a new space. Hospitality is about “living into the possibilities” rather than be stuck with how things are. Hospitality is based on reciprocal emerging and evolving relationships and roles.

So we ask: Are there stories in your life where you experienced the kind of hospitality that led to a deep sense of belonging? To get you going, here are some examples from our experiences:

  • Being alone in a new congregation for the first time, and being invited for lunch after the service. 
  • Extending our dining room table to include new community friends who quickly take on the role of “Grandpa”, “Grandma”, “Auntie”….. our words for kin.
  • Joining the Bent Arrow Soup and Bannock Friday lunches, where the tradition of connecting with strangers in the line-up, the serving crew, and at the tables is somehow natural and authentic. People are treated with care, and honoured with generous sharing about each others’ ways.
  • Attending a church service at one of our Old Order/Colony communities. These Old Order/Colony communities are strong in knowing and living by their own ways where there is “no arrogance, just gratitude.” This strong cultural embrace can make outsiders “feel comfortable.”

Do you have experiences to add to these?  You are invited to join our network to share stories of hospitality, peacebuilding, dialogue and witness!  Please reach out to Suzanne Gross at bridgebuilding@mcab.ca 

Links to suggested activities:

Lac St. Anne   St. Albert Powwow  Piikani Nation Powwow