What a wonderful Annual Meeting on Sunday! Thank you again for all the good wishes for my ten years at Redeemer, and the beautiful purple stole. I can’t wait for Lent so I can wear it.
It was also wonderful to see such a large and engaged group discussing the results of our Worship Space Experiments and give feedback on the Worship Space Renovation Discussion Team’s report. I had thought that the card-sorting exercise, where each table was asked to put 18 different attributes into a “must-have” or “nice to have” list, would be a quick warm-up, but I was wrong about that. Instead, it created a lot of wonderful conversations, surfaced some great ideas, and provided very helpful feedback.
It was no real surprise that eight out of eight groups put some attributes into the “must-have” category. Those were:
- fixing the floor,
- replacing the organ,
- an improved sound system,
- full handicapped accessibility,
- a children’s space,
- new paint,
- a sacred/holy feeling space.
We all seem to be in agreement about those aspects of a potential renovation.
Others had general if not 100% support, such as some kind of A/V capability, improved seating, and a smaller/more intimate space for small worship services. Six or seven of the eight groups put these in the “must-have” category.
I was surprised by some of the results. For example, in all the written feedback cards from our worship space experiments this fall, people almost universally said they liked it when the choir and the altar were closer to the congregation. However, only three of eight groups said: “choir more integrated with the congregation” was a must-have, and only one of the eight groups said “altar, lectern, and pulpit closer to the people” was a must-have. That being said, five groups did put these attributes on the “nice to have” list. These will be good issues for a future building committee to explore in more depth.
The write-in attributes were also extremely helpful. Several groups added, “improved lighting” which is a great idea. Others suggested improved security, which was a helpful point we have not thought about at all yet. And it’s a great idea to use any renovation as an opportunity to lower our heating costs and carbon footprint by improving insulation and windows.
The second group activity was to try to draw, as a group, what your idea of an improved worship space might be. This was a chance for conversation, creativity, and thinking outside the box. And the groups came up with a lot of creative ideas. Putting a chapel space and/or glassed-in children’s area in the back, rather than the front, of the church (under the balcony overhang) was one new idea that several groups came up with. The youth table was particularly thoughtful about giving the reasons behind their thinking, lifting up the idea that the altar is the table around which our community gathers to be fed.
I promised back in September that by the end of these conversations, we’d all be sick and tired of talking about worship. It may be that many feel we’ve now achieved that goal! Certainly, we have gotten a plethora of engaged, interesting, insightful, and helpful input from the entire parish. The vestry now has a clear idea of what people are thinking, what we are in agreement about, and what nuances still need to be worked out and explored.
Our next steps will be to take this to a smaller group, like a building committee, and look into hiring some professionals to help us figure things out, such as an organ consultant and/or architect. Another major next step is putting some price tags on our ideas so we can see what is feasible and what isn’t – again, a task best done by a small group. The vestry will be working on these next steps over the next couple of months.
Thank you again for participating in all of our Worship Space Experiments! Your engagement and participation are what made it so valuable.