Welcome: I come in peace, a Zimbabwe greeting — Tod Gobledale, UK

Welcome, Windermere United Reformed Church UK

For Pentecost 11, Year B


  • bag (cloth is best, less noise)
  • Welcome sign


I have something in my bag…. (Take out a welcome sign or the word ‘Welcome’ printed on a piece of paper.)

What does ‘welcome’ mean? … take responses

  • Safe
  • Part of the group

How do you make someone feel WELCOME?

Who here at our church who tries to make people coming to church feel welcome?

What do they do to make people coming to church feel welcome? [say hello; give them a hymnal; offer tea; introduce themselves; sharing with them.]

In Zimbabwe [where I used to live] there is a special way to greet people. There we shake hands in a special way, to say WELCOME. To say, “You are safe here.”

There are many snakes in Zimbabwe. And many of them are… poisonous! So many people carry a big heavy stick, called a Knobkerrie, to protect themselves. And sometimes when people were fighting, they would use a knobkerrie as a weapon.

When the people greet one another, they use a two-handed handshake. They still shake with one hand, and the other hand grasps the wrist of the shaking hand, so they are clasped together.
What would a person have to do with their big knobkerrie in order to shake hands with both hands?
Yes, they would have to put it down.
When a person shakes with both hands, they are saying, “I have no weapons; you are welcome—safe—here.”

Shake hands, in the Zimbabwe style, with each child.

It is important that we are welcoming, to help other people feel safe and part of the group.

Pray with me.

God, thank you for showing us how to be welcoming and friendly.  May we always be messengers of peace.  Amen.