Throughout the fall the Worship SLG spent time thinking and discussing how the furnishings and architecture of our sanctuary embody our convictions and values about worship. We’ve learned that our sanctuary has looked about the same since the 1967 when it was renovated to appear as it had in the late 1800’s. We’ve been thinking about what the current state of our sanctuary communicates about how, and what we value regarding worshipping together.
We’ve concluded that with rows of fastened down pews all the way from the back wall to the piano, all facing forward we have little choice but to have clergy-centered, chancel-focused, listen-to-the-preacher-talk style of worship (not that we don’t appreciate listening to our pastor).
One of the results of our conversation is that we’ve concluded that we would like our sanctuary to communicate:
•That God’s people don’t stay put in one place, but are pilgrims on the move, ultimately heading to serve God in the world. In the same way, we need space to move around in worship: space for the choir to move into place to sing without squeezing past obstacles: space for gathering for prayer with the elders; space for rituals like baptisms, anointing with oil, ordination and dedications. We need space for musicians who play musical instruments to stand or sit and space for the piano.
•That our worship space is also a place of awe, mystery, devotion and praise. It needs to communicate the wonder and transcendence of God. We need space for a baptismal font and space for drama, for liturgical dance and space to place our beautiful communion table where it can actually be used for communion.
Just as worship has changed and needs to change to better match our mission of reaching out to others the Worship SLG is considering whether our sanctuary needs to undergo some changes as well.
So a second result of our conversations is that after speaking with the elders and other leaders the Worship SLG decided to temporarily remove the pews on either side of the pulpit area. They are currently being stored in the balcony. You may have noticed that during Advent and Christmas the space created by removing the pews was used by our band and also by the Sunday School during their pageant.
Now we would like to widen our conversation to include the whole congregation. On January 8th and January 15th during the Adult Forum the Worship SLG will host a time for everyone to come and reflect, share and listen to one another about our worship space and what it means to us. It will be a time to recall memories of worship that have been meaningful to us, a time to think about what Scripture and tradition have to teach us about how God’s people have worshipped throughout the ages and a time to share and listen to each other’s thoughts and feelings about our own sanctuary at Old First.
We hope you’ll join us!
Wanda Sevey, Worship Standing Group Leader