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May 19, 2019: This Isn't Really About Pews, Is It?

by Father Jadon

As you read in last week’s Weekly Message, we will soon make alterations to several of our pews, with the input of the vestry, announcement to the parish at the beginning of this year, and thoughtful conversation with parishioners since then. The changes will involve:

  • Shortening two pews off the main aisle, in the seventh row, to accommodate those in wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or baby carriages. The two areas that have already been made for this purpose, at either end or the front row, are problematic, both because they are largely hidden and separated from the congregation by a pillar, and because the view to the altar from both of these positions is totally obstructed.
  • Removing the last two rows of pews to create additional room near the Baptismal font, so that more people may gather around it at Baptisms (further incorporating our congregation into the first of our two greatest sacraments) and other liturgies, such as the Easter Vigil (the first Mass of Easter and arguably the “greatest” liturgy of the year, theologically). These pews will be moved forward to replace other pews that have been water damaged over the years.
  • Removing the pew from the “old narthex,” which is quite weak, and harvesting the wood from it to make a more suitable housing for audio equipment that sits near the columbarium.
  • Shortening the one unmatched pew in the undercroft and moving it to the sanctuary where assisting clergy sit. This pew better matches the wood in this area and will provide much more comfortable seating than the chairs there now provide. The existing chairs will be moved to other locations of prominence.

As we have talked about the various needs for these changes over the last several months there has been some anxiety, and I think the anxiety isn’t really about pews as much as it is about change . . .  and the struggle to embrace who we are now as a parish, and who we are becoming, without feeling like we are dishonoring our past or diminishing our future. But the Christian life, the “living water” into which we are Baptized, is never stagnant. It is a life of constant change, constant flow.

When our building was designed, the primary entrances were not at the back, our liturgies did not encourage movement, Baptism was private, not public, and mobility scooters hadn’t been invented. Every generation has molded this building to fit who they are and how they worship and serve God with one another. Our generation is no different, and I, personally, can think of no higher calling than to further elevate and incorporate the principal symbol of our initiation into the family of God and our means of including all God’s people as we gather for worship. No, this most certainly isn’t about pews… nor is it the last change we (and those who come after us) will be called to make together to this holy place we have have inherited and that gathers a community we love.

Last Published: May 15, 2019 5:33 PM
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