Monday, April 23, 2007

The Moving of the Benches

On Saturday morning five men of the parish set about moving the church benches to create a central aisle. We were led by Andy our Health and Safety officer who had drawn up a plan to make it work. At times it did look as if the plan was going to go horribly awry but in the end we managed it. The pictures give an idea of before and after.

So far I have had many positive comments about the new arrangement which is a trial for two months. Tomorrow we have a funeral Mass and it will be nice to be able to have the coffin lying with the feet towards the altar instead of having it set out parallel with the altar so that it felt one was standing at an ironing board during the absolutions. There is also room now for the six funeral candlesticks to stand around the coffin. Another benefit is that the view of the altar is unobstructed and it makes it seem more prominent.

As the back rows are now made up of two or more benches together some people have expressed concern that this arrangement may not satisfy fire regulations so that is something to check but by and large I have been delighted by the responses I`ve had.

16 comments:

Sweep said...

Father Brown, you run the great risk of turning St. Mary's into something resembling a church!

Fiddler said...

A good decision, Father. All churches should have a central aisle for weddings and funerals. Also the lining up for communion will look less like a school prize-giving.
With your double benches at the back you have probably pre-empted the next EU regulation - that extra wide benches be provided to addrss the nation's obesity problem.
Top marks!
And I would do your ironing for you!

Anonymous said...

From the limited view I have on screen it is certainly an improvement (as almost anything had to be) but it would appear that anyone in the front pews would not really be able to kneel for long. Or are people to be told not to sit on the front bench/pew?

ScepticalBeliever

luddite said...

People must have sat (or not sat) on the front bench before the big move. I can't imagine the recent change has made any difference to the front row. Maybe they just had strong backs and thigh muscles.

flabellum said...

When do the communion rails and houselling cloth come in?

ali said...

good job Padre!

btw...you being a priest and all, could you give us your priestly blessing to all of us who read your blog? :D

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Sweep.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Fiddler. Good to know I`m ahead of the game with the EU. Ironing would be great.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Dear Sceptical, it is true that the front benches at the centre now have no kneelers. On a Sunday the space beside the short front bench is the place for our three parishioners in wheelchairs. I have put cushions under those benches to encourage kneeling but for the Traditional Mass the kneeling for communion will need to be at the two front benches on the sides

Fr Michael Brown said...

Flabellum, much as I would like an altar rail along the lines of that featured recently at the High Mass from Blackfen, there sadly isn`t any room here with the present sanctuary arrangement.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks, Ali. Still enjoying your blog and its links especially the site with a daily thought from St Francis de Sales. I`m not sure how one gives a blessing to blog readrers but if it can be done consider it done. I`ll make a note to remember all readers in my daily prayers.

Hebdomadary said...

If you need kneelers for the front row, get a parish committee making some nice anglican embroidered kneelers cushions. It would be a lovely oecumenical gesture! :-)

Pastor in Valle said...

Congratulations, Father; a great improvement.

Anonymous said...

As a long standing Parishioner of 46 years (unlike others making comments) the new bench arrangement is a mess. I don't necessarily disagree with a centre aisle but the re-designing of the church interior and bench arrangement made it such that the benches were made to measure. The current arrangement for receiving Holy Communion is messy too. Certainly not enough room at the front for people to pass those reciving from the chalice. I for one want to return to the tried and tested arrangement only changed to satisfy your whims Fr Brown!

Fr Michael Brown said...

Anonymous parishioner, thank you for your comment. I`m glad you do not think a centre aisle is a bad idea. It is in fact very useful and practical. I realise the benches are not an exact fit in this present arrangement but so far I have only had positive comments from parishioners (who have not hidden under the cloak of anonymity). It was not done on a whim but because I thought it would improve the layout of the church. The parish council have not expressed any discontent and there was nothing put forward on the subject in the suggestions box. Having the altar on the side of the church goes against the whole design of the building anyway.

helpful said...

Anonymous as the creation of a central aisle was initially an experiment no permanent measures were taken, I agree the layout of benches appears untidy but perhaps now is the time to think about improving the appearance by maybe altering the ends of certain benches in order to create more orderly aisles. As a member of the Parish Council I have received many positive comments about a central aisle from several parishioners both young and a little older. There are boxes at both entrances of the church where parishioners can leave their comments which will then be discussed at the next Parish Council meeting, as yet we have received none. I too have been a parishioner of St Mary's for almost 40 years and sadly mourn the demise of the original layout of our church but as I was told we must move with the needs of the community. I do hope when and if there are permanent changes to the layout it will please all of the parishioners, we must work together to create a loving and prayerful community in St Mary's. God Bless.