If you serve in the parish, you will likely find yourself playing Hostess With The Mostess. Hosting is a lot of work, as it requires attention to detail, careful thinking and plotting through not only the needs of the guests and presenters, but working through a building use rubric (“where will the break-out groups meet?), publicity (who’s handling it), registration, and the all- important clean up. Hosting will require all your best people skills, patience, and collaborative spirit. All hands on deck is the best assurance of success, but all hands on deck creates complicated dynamics. Still, so much better than leaving one overwhelmed and overworked person to handle everything, and these things MUST be carefully prepared for.
I hope that you kids who do this all the time LIKE A BOSS will contribute your list of tips in the comments section!
Last night, my congregation hosted what turned out to be an enormously well-attended presentation on Immigration And The New Sanctuary Movement. Here is a roughly chronological check-list of my personal involvement as both a member of the presenting organization and as Parish Minister and Chief-Of-Staff of the hosting institution:
Receive casual request from organizer to host the event, gave tentative affirmative response pending approval. (TIP: DON’T SAY YES RIGHT AWAY)
Check with multiple staff members to confirm the date and time: Church Office Manager, Music Director (because of a choir conflict), Director of Faith Development. (CHECK THE DATE WITH EVERYONE)
Communicate with related ministry team to generate interest and support among its members. (BRING IN LAY FOLKS IF THEY DIDN’T INITIATE THE PLAN)
Design Facebook ad on behalf of the organization, post it and boost it for $50. Monitor responses. (PROMOTE)
Work with presenter to review details: PowerPoint and a/v needs, review evening agenda and give feedback based on knowledge of previous events and of our building. (ASSURE FOR A SMOOTH PRESENTATION IN EVERY LITTLE DETAIL. THINK LIKE A STAGE MANAGER)
Meet in person with staff to discuss details on a/v, sound system. Room set-up, refreshments, signage, chairs. (SIT WITH YOUR TEAM IN THE SAME SPACE TO REVIEW EVERY LAST DETAIL. DO NOT LEAVE THIS TO E-MAIL)
Prepare casserole to bring for presenter and others because no one ever takes time for dinner before these big evening meetings. (DO UNTO OTHERS. HAVE YOU EVER PRESENTED WHILE STARVING? IT’S AWFUL)
Send press releases pitching why the story is interesting to four area news outlets. (ALERT THE MEDIA, GIVE THEM A HOOK)
Contact videographer to inquire how to set up camera to livestream into overflow room, do happy dance when he offers to come and do it himself. (CONSIDER OVERFLOW CROWD MANAGEMENT AND CARE)
Contact local police department after hearing about hostile phone call received by organizer threatening to disrupt event with debate and questioning. (THINK ABOUT SECURITY)
Prepare opening comments. (MAKE TIME TO THINK THROUGH YOUR OWN MOMENT ON THE STAGE)
Take presenter and assistant out for food and drink afterward. (CELEBRATE)
Tag and provide captions for Facebook photos of event. (KEEP PROMOTING THE WORK – SHARE THE SUCCESS AND THE ENERGY)
Write thank you e-mail to staff and lay members. (CELEBRATE AND EXPRESS GRATITUDE)
You may be thinking, “Hmmm, what about that hostile phone call? Did anything happen?”
No, not really. But here’s something that helped. Feel free to use the language yourself in your Welcome And Opening Remarks at any similar event.
Our agenda has been outlined for you on paper but let me be clear to all here this evening that we are committed to this agenda and that our moral commitments are not up for debate. If you are here to debate immigration policy or to question the necessity of organizing a sanctuary movement, we warmly welcome you to organize an event that provides time and space for arguments for and against. TONIGHT IS NOT THAT TIME, AND THIS SPACE IS NOT THAT SPACE. So if you are here to debate, let me say that you should not be embarrassed to leave now, as this event will be a waste of your time, and we don’t want to waste anybody’s time.
If you would like to stay, and listen and learn, please do. If not, go with our blessing and peace be with you.
Click to enlarge
Deciding what to wear for this event was pretty easy. I like to wear a comfortable knee-length skirt, boots, clericals and a blazer. It would have been nice to wear a bit of a heel but not when I’m running around as much as I was for this gathering. This skirt is a recent J Jill purchase. Those two wonderful women with me are the Dr. Alexandra Piñeros-Shields and Cherish Casey of the Essex County Community Organization. We work hard and have fun.