My name is Stephanie Bradley. I currently serve at Lake Deaton UMC as a member of the Staff – Parish Relations Team.
Before reading the “Five Practices” book I thought I understood the concept of Radical Hospitality, and gave us a really good grade at it. Back when our congregation was meeting at the Eisenhower recreation center, I recall fondly how my husband and I were welcomed by greeters at the front entrance, as well as at two other spots before getting to the room where services were held. That experience, (plus the free coffee, and awesome sermon!) were all factors that impacted our decision to come back again and again.
However, I believe the author was spot on in asserting that “radical hospitality” means little if it doesn’t go beyond a warm welcome to newcomers at church services. Regarding our church family, it doesn’t count for much if we fail to extend ourselves to our neighbors on the block. Or perhaps more importantly, if we fail to extend ourselves to our neighbors in the communities surrounding The Villages, where so many are struggling, particularly during these challenging times. In fact, though the odds are that few of our neighbors outside this senior citizen “Disneyland”, will ever step foot in Lake Deaton UMC, extending the love of Christ though our service, support and prayer might just be the most lasting and important form of “radical hospitality” there is.