Organizing a Church Homecoming

Homecomings can be a time to celebrate the church's history and the people who have attended.
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People in a church often form close bonds of fellowship, bonds that continue even as people move on to other parts of the world. A church homecoming takes many different forms. Some churches make it an annual event with a homecoming Sunday that includes a dinner, special singing and day-long events. Others celebrate it only on such occasions as a major church anniversary. In some church traditions, such as some African-American churches, it takes on the additional role of celebrating the heritage of the people and faith.

A committee can make the planning and execution of a homecoming much easier.
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Form a committee to plan the homecoming and help divide duties. Ask for volunteers in the church program and make an announcement from the pulpit that the church is seeking people to help work on the church's homecoming celebration. Assign committee members to such tasks as decorating, food, music, invitations and gifts.

Begin announcing the date of homecoming several months in advance.
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Set aside a date on the calendar for the homecoming. Check with the pastoral staff to find out when it might fit in well with other activities and planned sermons. If possible, plan the homecoming around a special date in the church's history or one that coordinates with a local event for which people might be returning to the town where the church is located.

Brainstorm ways to inform former members about the homecoming. Set up an open social network event and ask current members to send out invites to people with whom they've stayed in touch. Post notices in the church newsletter. Write letters about the homecoming event and send them to addresses in the church database of members who have moved away.

Choose a decorating theme for the homecoming. Tie the theme to the season, to a particular historical era or to a biblical passage. Decorate the church and the sanctuary according to that theme.

Picnics are a popular choice for summer homecomings.
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Organize people to provide food for the homecoming meal. Discuss with the committee whether the meal should be potluck, catered or prepared by select church members. Keep in mind that many participants may be traveling and lack ready access to food preparation equipment. Plan the menu, if appropriate, keeping dietary needs in mind. Set up a place where the meal can be served and work closely with those doing the decorating as they may wish to provide centerpieces, tablecloths or even special serving platters and dishware.

Find a source for creating gifts that have the occasion and year engraved or printed on them. Decide whether small gifts will be given to all attendees or whether more specialized gifts will be given to special honorees such as those who have traveled the farthest, those who belonged to the church longest, former pastoral staff members or special speakers and guests.

Plan the service with the pastoral team. Select music that fits with the homecoming theme. Invite guest speakers who have played a part in the church's history. Choose readings from the Scripture that are related to homecoming themes and church fellowship. Involve worship teams that exist in your church, such as drama teams, music teams or Bible study groups, and ask them to contribute something to the homecoming service.

As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.