Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Friendly Welcome in Annapolis

Have you ever been to Chick and Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis, Maryland? Today my husband and I took a little day trip to Annapolis and stopped in at Chick and Ruth’s for lunch. (and, yes, D-e-l-l-y is the correct spelling!).

We found Chick and Ruth’s Delly in the late 80’s while on a little vacation with our kids. Chick himself was living at the time and running the delly with his usual friendly banter and gusto. As we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with our children, Chick made the rounds of the tables like a doting grandfather, engaging customers in conversation and ensuring that everyone cleaned their plates. We received such a warm, gracious welcome we eagerly stopped by on subsequent trips to Annapolis and always found the visit like returning home to family overjoyed by the sight of you.

Today was no different. Though Chick and Ruth are gone, their memories and traditions live on with their son Ted and his wife Beth. The Delly was bustling as usual with busy managers, friendly wait staff and busy cooks—and of course, with happy, satisfied customers. Managers, whose eyes constantly roved the restaurant anticipating needs, directed us to a seat beside a fresh-faced, college-aged couple with whom we shared bits of conversation and a bottle of ketchup. Our multi-tasking waitress offered us a wide smile, good recommendations, and attentive service, despite the lunch rush.

Chick and Ruth’s Delly is a unique delicatessen that has lasted through the years not only because it serves tasty, feel-good food, but, due to the Levitt’s offer of lasting, genuine friendship to the people who enter their doors. Their interest, love, and concern shows in the amiable attitude of their staff, the vigilance and accommodation of their managers, the homey layout of the deli, and in the wholesome variety of their menu.

Our experience got me to thinking. Am I this welcoming in our church on Sunday mornings? Do I show authentic interest in the person who sits next to me for worship? Do I let my glance slide over visitors as though I didn’t quite see them as I look for my friends?

God’s Word speaks directly to us about welcoming others:

  •  “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)
  •  “I was a stranger and you received me in your homes . . . whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!” (Matthew 25:35)
  •  “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2).

Maybe we can learn from the kind of hospitality that Chick and Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis exemplifies:

  • A quality product: We offer a relationship with our God, who can meet every need!
  • Capable managers: Letting Jesus take charge puts our ministry into hands scarred with the greatest labor of love.
  • Amiable workers: When what we do is out of gratitude to God and genuine interest and concern for others, our face, our demeanor and our words can show it.
  • Comfortable atmosphere: Does our church offer worship services with both traditional and contemporary music styles? Is there a choice of settings (sanctuary, fellowship hall, chapel) for people to choose from? Are there safe places for a visitor's little ones?
  • Warm welcome: It's easy to be friendly. Reach out a hand, ask a question or two, offer to sit with newcomers, direct visitors to restrooms, Sunday school classes, etc.
  • Extended Hospitality: Look for these visitors next week, call them during the week, or invite them to lunch following church.
Tackling even one aspect of welcoming visitors will mean so much to the stranger who feels like a deer caught in the headlights. Let’s take God at His Word! 


©2011 Pamela D. Williams