Hello & Welcome

The message that faces you on the big yellow crane as you arrive in Dock Cafe kinda says it all.  It’s a bit of a mission statement.

EVERYONE is welcome.  That maybe goes without saying; I hope that every single person coming in through the doors of Dock Cafe feels safe, loved, welcomed and warm.  But it’s a bit of a scary world out there at the minute so I thought that it was just worth saying: EVERYONE is welcome.

One of the great joys of Dock Cafe is the great privilege of being part of this big chaotic multicultural jumble of human life.  It does my heart good to look out across the noisy babble of the Dock and see people from every culture, creed and community sharing a cuppa, a conversation and a good belly laugh.  If the global events of the last few weeks are making you anxious, I prescribe a visit to the Dock to just sit on a squashy sofa, being part of Life in the Titanic Quarter.  It’s good medicine.

Sometimes in the local news, the loudness of the tribal drums suggests that nothing really changes.  I look out across the Dock and I know that it does.  Sometimes in the global news, the proposed walls and closing borders suggest that welcoming the stranger isn’t worth the risk.  I look out across the Dock and I know that it is.

Every day we live with risk: that the Honesty Box will be abused, that our welcome will be spurned, that our friendship  will be taken for granted.  It is worth it.  For as much as we can play our part in building community life in this new part of Belfast, we will live with the risk – and the joy – of this core value: EVERYONE is welcome.

Two events in the next few days are a good example of the rubber hitting the road of this ethos: first, on Sunday night at 6pm in the cafe, it’s our monthly Sunday Nights At The Dock, which from the start has been an informal, coffee-fuelled, joyful exploration of what it means to worship and pray together across our denominational boundaries. This Sunday we’ll be starting a new series looking at ‘Roots Of Resilience’ – finding deep strength in stressful seasons – possibly timely!

Then on Monday night we’ll be starting The English Corner, our new weekly conversation classes for those learning English (please note the new start time of 4:45).

People gathering in a cafe for worship and prayer and good strong coffee on a Sunday evening; a team of teachers and students getting to grips with phrases like “bout ye, big lad” – it maybe does’t look world-changing.   But it gives me inexpressible hope that living with an open heart and attitude is possible.  And it’s better.  And it’s just more fun!