From the Rector – Column 11

November 28, 2019

Dear Friends,

Thank you for bearing with us for our last Worship Space Experiment in the Great Hall. We learned so much from the experiments and they really brought us forward a long way in our discussion about the worship space. As one person remarked, the conversation around the experiments has reinforced our values as a community, as we’ve thought deeply about why we do what we do. However, I think we are all ready to be back upstairs in the sanctuary for Advent! 

Thanks again for all the great feedback, and here is what you shared on the feedback notecards:

This time, ten people basically had positive things to say about the in-the-round arrangement, while 15 people felt it was not a good arrangement. Five more listed both pros and cons. (This was a switch from last week, where 17 people liked it and five didn’t, with four mixed feelings.) 

The positive comments included:

  • “it felt “more accessible and welcoming”,
  • “more like a shared experience,”
  • “I felt one of the contributors, not just on the receiving end of the service.”

On the negative side,

  • two people said it was “confusing,”
  • three called it “disorienting”
  • and five used the word  “distracting”.
  • One person said “it felt like we lost the magic of the sanctuary”
  • and another that “I feel like I’m in a fishbowl.” 

Both on the pro and con side, everyone was unanimous in saying that visibility was not good in this arrangement, it’s problematic to have the clergy’s back to anyone during Communion, and that it’s great to have the choir be more part of the congregation. The choir members themselves especially commented that they liked feeling more a part of the group instead of off in a separate location. 

Four different people said that, despite the pros and cons of the “in the round” arrangement, they preferred the horseshoe setup of our previous Great Hall experiment. 

Several people wrote “Thank you worship team!” on their notecards, as we wrap up this series of experiments. I want to echo those thanks, especially

  • to our altar guild (who had to carry everything downstairs each Sunday then back up again),
  • to our acolytes (who had a different configuration to navigate for the procession each Sunday, not to mention changing seating locations),
  • our liturgy team (who had to figure out where to stand at the altar and for Communion for each set-up, and negotiate different mics at the lectern),
  • our choir (Where to begin! So many things!), and
  • especially Murray Daniels and our music director Bernadette Colley for being there early each Sunday to get the keyboard and speakers working.
  • In addition, the Worship Committee and WSRD Team members came early each week to set up the chairs and move furniture.

Thank you all! 

Lastly, one person wrote on their notecard, “I know we’ve finished with the experiments set up, but I would have liked to experience the choir behind the altar, on risers, facing the sanctuary. This is a common set up… for a reason.” Well, we agree. The Organ Committee, in particular, feels it is important that we try this so we can better pinpoint the best location for possibly moving the organ pipes or locating future organ speakers. So, we will have one last worship experiment (one Sunday only) on January 19th, when the choir will be at the top of the chancel steps, behind the altar (in between the current choir pews). This experiment will be entirely about acoustics and sound, so bring your listening ears! 

Next week’s newsletter will be a report on the Adult Forum that also took place on November 24, so look for that next week. 

Happy Thanksgiving!