Monday, December 14, 2009

Church Update

I should be showering, but I have a few minutes here to try for short and sweet! I've already been out this morning, driving the carpool with Bantam14 and Blondechick17 to school, the bus just picked up Chicklet7, and B10 is deep in a book. B4 is in the basement, but I can hear him from here, making motor noises and crashing sounds. I am enjoying my first cup of coffee of the morning--with eggnog in it, one of my favorite holiday treats. Yum!

So the big news at our church is that we have started meeting regularly in the old chapel. This summer a couple of new families joined us--11 more people for a total of nearly 70 "regulars." When everyone happened to be there on the same Sunday once or twice, we all realized that we had outgrown our "upper room."

We were already in the habit of using the chapel for special seasons (like Advent and Holy Week) and feast days (like Pentecost and All Saints'), so it wasn't a huge transition. We used the chapel one Sunday a couple months back for a baptism, I think it was, and the next Sunday stayed there again, and soon we had ourselves a permanent storage room near the chapel instead of upstairs. It just kinda happened!

Being in the chapel is great on an aesthetic level. It has many stained glass windows, beautiful wood trim everywhere, and it has great acoustics for violin solos from our resident music professional. It also presents many challenges, logistically.

First of all, see all that wood? It's acoustically great for the violin--but any baby's cry or toddler's whine also echoes and bounces around the space. Since our congregation is over half children, some Sundays can be quite noisy! We have a sound system now, but sound in general is a challenge in this space.

And see those pews in the foreground, turned to face each other? That's the "choir." Behind that is the rood screen (that tall wooden framed section), and then there is a narrow aisle perpendicular to the main aisle. Beyond that is another choir area with side-facing pews (where our teenagers sit on one side, and our clergy and altar boys on the other), and finally there are pews that face the altar, which is to our backs in this picture. Most of the congregation sits way out there, in the forward-facing pews, which is a long way from the only place we can put our musicians and singers--on the platform up near the altar area. The rood screen serves to further distance them. We have experimented with serving communion at various points along the center aisle--usually at the screen, but during Advent, we're having folks come all the way up to the east-facing altar.

The altar is another logistical challenge--in seasons other than Advent, we use a free-standing one that Father Rooster can stand behind and face the congregation. We have tried this altar in a number of locations, but usually put it on a subplatform of the main altar.

Additional challenges are presented by our Sunday school rooms or lack thereof--one middler age class meets in a hallway, and we really need a room which can keep set up with all of our Godly Play manipulatives.

But we certainly are grateful to have this space--it's inexpensive, we have a good relationship with the Kemper Center, and its beauty makes up for its inconveniences. We sense God's presence among us there every Sunday!

Okay, must go shower, although this will be a different shower than the one I referred to at the beginning of the post--that was last Friday! I decided I MUST have pictures to go with this post. So much for short and sweet!


Heather said...

Despite the logistical problems, the chapel is gorgeous! Good to hear that you all are a growing congregation.

Papa Bear said...

Having the altar against the front wall is one of the things I like about this space. It's one thing I liked about the Lutheran church when I was there: when the pastor prayed, he faced the altar (with the cross above it) rather than the congregation, which emphasized that he was talking to God, not to them. Because he had a microphone on the altar (a wireless mic works just as well) the people could listen and join in his prayer.

So far, it seems to work best if he then brings Bread and Cup down to the main level where the people are, rather than having a traffic jam on the steps of the altar. (The Lutherans did that, too.) I only wish we had room to kneel to receive Communion.

Amy said...

Your growth is exciting...and I love the chapel!

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Once upon a time, back when I had the money (and energy) to travel, I went to a vespers service at Westminster Abbey. All the seats faced each other. It was kind of odd to me, at the time, but I think I could definitely get used to it. Is there really any reason for everyone to be looking at the "stage" up front? I think we're just used to it that way.

Jessica said...

I have to say, selfishly, that I'm getting more and more fascinated by your posts about your church as we're getting closer and closer to becoming involved in a church plant ourselves. I also just love hearing about how this new manifestation of the body of Christ is growing and developing and thriving!