Coffee hour is a vital part of Unitarian Universalist (UU) community life. Garrison Keillor peppered his Prairie Home Companion monologues with UU jokes, including our love of coffee (hour). Some observers say it is a UU sacrament or our form of communion.
At the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark (UUFN), Coffee Hour is a meaningful gathering held regularly after Sunday services. UUFN Community members chat about the sermon, catch up with friends, and welcome newcomers. Coffee hour also provides opportunities to connect with activities – to join a social action effort, sign up for adult or children’s religious education classes, find out more information about upcoming events, exchange a donated used book or magazine, buy grocery gift certificates, browse or purchase inspirational or UU books and publications, buy a raffle ticket, volunteer to help at the events and fundraisers, or learn about the newest efforts of the youth RE classes.
UUFN Hospitality Function
Within the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark (UUFN), the Hospitality Function is now primarily limited to providing the labor to set-up, serve, and cleanup beverages and light snacks for “Coffee Hour” on Sunday mornings. The “Coffee Hour” is held immediately after the 10:00 A.M., Sunday morning service. Currently, beverages are usually limited to coffee, tea, lemonade, water, and hot chocolate (the latter only from October through March). Examples of snacks served recently include crackers, cookies, pretzels, chips, fruit, or finger veggies and dip. Coffee Hour is usually held in Fahs Hall with the use of the Fahs Hall Kitchen. Supplies, materials, serving plates and bowls, urns, and vessels are stored in locked Cabinets in the Fahs Hall Kitchen, a locked closet in Fahs Hall, and Cabinets and a refrigerator in the MacKinnon Hall Kitchen.
FUN FACT: A number of years ago, the Hospitality Team was also responsible to sweep or shovel the front steps, check and prepare the restrooms, greet visitors and members as they entered the building, act as ushers, and staff the Coffee Hour service. However, the teams usually were composed of 6 to 8 people with responsibilities rotating each month.)
Composition of Hospitality Teams and Frequency of Serving
Currently, each Hospitality Team is supposed to be composed of at least two (2) people, and each team is expected to serve once each month for a total of 12 times per year. A Team is assigned to a specific Sunday of the month: 1st Sunday, 2nd Sunday, 3rd Sunday, 4th Sunday, and 5th Sunday (if any). A list is kept of volunteers who are willing to substitute – these are individuals who have prior experience on a Team or have received orientation and training.
Things that The Hospitality Service and Teams DO NOT Do
The UUFN Board or its various Committees that conduct or sponsor meetings or special events (including fundraisers) are responsible for providing their own beverages, snacks or food. Planning, organization, and execution of the meeting or event includes the responsibility for beverage and food provision, serving, and cleanup. The same can be said for those groups, organizations, or individuals who rent MacKinnon Hall.
Hospitality Team Coordinator’s Role
Currently, the Hospitality Team Coordinator is responsible for
- recruiting and training Team members
- inventorying supplies and materials
- assuring that a sufficient number of team members are present each Sunday, and understand their mission for the day
- ordering or purchasing supplies, and even minor kitchen tools and equipment
- notifying appropriate offices, committees, or the Board, as applicable regarding facility and major equipment issues, and make requests or recommendations for addressing such
- coordinating with other congregational committees and leaders.
Relationships: The Hospitality Team Coordinator most frequently communicates and coordinates with the Kitchen Chairperson, the Property Committee Chair, and other committee chairs that hold events following a Sunday or Holiday Service.