Report on the Sanctuary Configuration
At the church Annual Meeting, on March 10, some members of the Congregation expressed an interest in receiving more information about the movement of church pews and a desire to provide written feedback. At our March 19 Council Meeting, we addressed this request and hereby give an update on the process and on the opportunity for written feedback.
For several years now, our congregational life together has been shaped by three core values: extravagant welcome, heartfelt service and spiritual nourishment. While our commitment to being a welcoming church originated in our Open and Affirming process for the LGBT community, more recently the Kitchen and Accessibility Renovation Team (KART) has helped us to see how we could improve our welcome for people with disabilities.
In the fall of 2018, the Council decided to take steps to address several spatial issues that were converging at the front of the sanctuary. First, there was no welcoming area for wheelchair attendees who were shuttled to the side or in the way back. Their companions often could not sit next to them. Second, the ultra -close spacing of the pews is challenging for some visitors to get in and out. We wondered if a combination of pews and separate chairs would be more welcoming. Third, there was a congested situation in the front section between the pews and the chancel especially during baptisms, weddings, special events, and concerts. No flexibility was possible for alternate services. Fourth, when the choir is performing in front of the church, they cannot see the choir director if he is playing the piano from the side.
And so, the Council considered a time-limited period to experiment with pew removal, chairs and wheelchairs on the right and different choir and piano configurations on the left. Rev. Baker described this trial, exploratory period on multiple occasions from the pulpit. She explained that the pews had been temporarily removed and stored safely. She also shared the process that at a future Congregational Meeting, the congregation would make a decision: vote for a new configuration or vote to keep the original configuration.
The Council is fully committed to hearing all points of view and proceeding in a transparent manner. It welcomes your feedback. Some drawings of the different configurations are being created for the consideration of the Council and the Congregation. A Special Congregational Meeting will be called before summer to make a final decision on the sanctuary configuration.
FOR WRITTEN FEEDBACK, please deposit your comments in the “Sanctuary Configuration Suggestions” box in the Parish Hall or send an email to:
Thank you for your patience, understanding and support as we collectively listen to all opinions and come to a mutually agreeable solution.
Peace, Grace and Love,
Jana Bertkau, Chair, on behalf of Church Council