Updated: Jul 6
Later this month, we will change the front of our sanctuary. The second level of steps and the elevated pulpits will be removed to create a single dais. The photos that accompany this article—from other churches’ sanctuaries—should give you a broad-strokes idea of what to expect when the construction is finished. The work should begin on Monday, July 10th.
We discussed these changes in a congregational meeting last fall, but—as is often the case with construction projects—our pace slowed to accommodate changes to our flooring selection, as well as contractor schedules. As the process unfolded, we decided not to simply change the flooring of the dais itself, but to recarpet the whole of the sanctuary. Our current carpet is more than 30 years old, and this will give the whole space a “lift.” (Great credit is due to Becky Boone, instrumental in the selection of the original carpet, who helped us select our new carpet.)
I realize that some time has passed since the congregation discussed this project. I expect some of the initial energy and excitement has dulled, and maybe given way to some anxiety about the change. The space will look different. It will take time to get used to it.
I want to reorient us again to why we are making these changes. Our biggest priority is accessibility. Right now, participation in worship as a lay leader or pastor requires a certain amount of mobility; there are two flights of stairs to ascend, and the railings are not well-located. We want to move toward greater inclusion and maximize the participation of the whole community. Second, a single-level space up front creates greater flexibility—for us, and for anyone else who uses the space. Finally, the differential between the pulpit and the pew is starker than intended. An oversight of the sloping of the floor when the sanctuary was constructed resulted in the pulpit and lay lectern standing about 18” higher than intended. While this design emphasizes the elevation of God’s sacred Word to us, the effect in the WPC sanctuary feels exaggerated and inaccessible.
Change is hard. Even when we seek out and pursue it. This new design will be an adjustment, especially for those who have been worshiping in this space for many, many years. At first, you might even dislike it. My hope is that, over time, you will come to appreciate both the aesthetic and the function of the new space. We have embraced change before at Westminster Presbyterian Church—and seen great fruit come because of it. I pray these latest changes will be no different. Wherever we are, whatever our space, may we bear witness to the radical good news of the gospel and God’s call on our life together.
We expect that the work begun on July 10th will take about two weeks. During this time, we will worship in the sanctuary as normal, including on Sunday, July 16th.
Peace and grace,