From the Rector – Column 9

November 14, 2019

Dear Friends,

This coming Sunday, we will have Worship Space Experiment #3 in the Great Hall. Once again, we are going to try out an idea that many people have suggested – having “church in the round” or the altar in the middle of the worship space. 

The worship committee had a lot of discussion before deciding to move forward with this experiment. We visited a few churches that had this setup – it was a very popular move for church renovations in the 1970s and 80s – and heard that some of those churches didn’t love what they ended up with. One problem is that the clergy, when celebrating the Eucharist, are going to have their back to at least part of the congregation (although, right now that is always true for our choir). On the plus side, it does seem to address some of the things Redeemer members have expressed as hopes for a renovated worship space: more sense of connection with each other, more intimacy and community. 

In the end, the worship committee decided it was worth experimenting with. Our conclusion was, we don’t know until we try it!  Although we’re not really doing science here, any scientist will tell you it’s a bad idea to make assumptions beforehand about the result of an experiment.  

Our setup is borrowed from All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago (where Rev. Andrew once worked). The altar will be in the center, with the lectern to one side and clergy/presider chairs on the opposite side. There will be four sections of chairs radiating out from the center. The choir will occupy one of the four sections. We will not be using screens at this service. That would obviously not work since half of the congregation will have their back to the screens. Instead, we’ll use our regular bulletin and will have a musical insert (so we don’t have to carry all the hymnals downstairs). 

Once again, we will be handing out index cards and ask for your feedback. Remembering what we learned from Rev. Isaac Everett at our retreat, here are some questions to think about:

  • What happened? 
  • What was I hoping would happen? 
  • What did I notice? 
  • What did I experience? 
  • What caused these things to happen? 

We will repeat this Worship Space Experiment in the Great Hall on November 24. After worship on November 24, our Adult Forum will be focused on discussing and processing what we learned from the Worship Space Experiments.

There will be one final experiment in January, but back in the sanctuary. All will be as normal except we’ll experiment with having the choir sit in the front pews. 

I’m looking forward to your feedback on Sunday!

Peace,
Kate

One Reply to “From the Rector – Column 9”

  1. Elizabeth Gable

    Hi Kate–
    I’ve been reading with interest all the ideas about reconfiguring the church space at Redeemer. The idea for this Sunday made me think about the church that I grew up in in Baltimore. The Church of THE Redeemer.
    If you look at their website, you will see that the Church is built on a three-sided plan, raised altar, pulpit to the left, lectern to the right, chairs for clergy at the back of the platform, and organ console at the back right. The clergy never has its back. to the congregation. The choir sat in the pews at the right of the altar, I believe.
    At one point I envisioned a back-lighted window like the one in Baltimore, but that might not go with the New England church decor!
    Obviously, our space and backdrop in Lexington would be much smaller and less fancy, respectively, but it is a wonderful use of the worship space.
    Good luck with your future ideas. Warmly Elizabeth

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