Saint Paul’s is in a time of discernment about how to finish off the rear of the nave and how to configure the front of the nave. You can view some of the ideas here on our website and offer comments. Drawings are also available for viewing on the bulletin board in Dixon House. We are in a phase of listening. These ideas have been talked about for many years going back as far as the 1970s when Jim Moodey was rector.
This review of space finally became unavoidable when the parish chose to remove pews and open up space in the back of the church. The Psalms throughout, use the expression: “God has set our feet in an open place.” The openness at the rear of the nave seems more welcoming and conveys a sense of freedom. We would like to move our marble baptismal font out into this space so that it can once again be used for baptisms. We are exploring the possibility of creating a labyrinth for meditation as well.
We are also looking at the front of the nave. The adage “form follows function” gives pause for thought. Currently, the free standing altar doubles as a music stand for choir anthems with the deacon and music director eye-to-eye as the table is prepared for communion. It makes sense to move the altar forward a bit. The 9 a.m. worship where the emphasis is on community uses the chancel as its primary worship space. This worked fine when attendance was 35 people. Now it is upward of 75 and we have two seating areas. If it was a ballpark, we would have premium seating in the chancel and the bleachers in the nave. It would be more unifying to configure the seating at the front of the nave to give the same sense of intimacy and to keep everyone together. It would also allow the 9 a.m. congregation to grow even more. Finally, moving the altar forward would allow handicap access to the altar and the rail where communion would be served. In this sense it would afford greater hospitality. All of this can be done without altering the original artisanship of the church. No decisions are being made. It is a time of discernment and listening. Look at the ideas and give us your thoughts.
This design shows six rows of chairs rather than pews in the front of the nave. The baptismal font is moved out to the center in the rear of the nave with chairs set up around it. Matching stone replaces the worn cork flooring in front and back where the chairs are positioned.
This design builds on the previous one, removing two rows of chairs and bringing the chancel out into the nave 8 feet, using 12 moveable platforms. The current stairs though covered by the moveable platforms remain completely undisturbed and intact. The free standing altar remains in its current position. In the rear of the nave our rose window pattern is duplicated in stonework on the floor with the baptismal font moved out to the center.
Here we see a close-up of bringing the chancel 13 feet into the nave once again using moveable platforms. This design allows bringing the free standing altar forward. Surrounding chairs allow for intimacy.
This design again shows the chancel 13 feet into the nave. Now altar rails allow communion to be served from the free standing altar with handicap access. 18 moveable platforms make this design possible again without any disturbance to the current stairs. The rear of the nave shows a medieval labyrinth design that is found in many churches today.
This idea explores what it might look like to create more seating for the choir. It moves the chancel 18 feet into the nave with 24 moveable platforms. Again there are altar rails on the side. In the rear is a labyrinth in a square design.
This figure is a close-up of the 8 foot extended chancel shown in #2.
This is a detail of #4 showing the extended chancel with altar moved forward.
This diagram is a close-up of slide E showing the chancel extended 18 feet into the nave with communion rails.
This diagram is a close-up of our rose window design for the rear of the nave with the baptismal font brought out to the center.
This is a detail of an octagonal labyrinth design not shown on any of the other diagrams.
Here is a close-up of the medieval labyrinth design shown at the rear of the nave in #4.
This is a close-up of a square labyrinth design that can be seen in #5.
These diagrams are all ideas. After viewing them you may have additional thoughts. We would really appreciate hearing from you. This needs to be an open process and one in which we take our time. Whatever we do, we need to do it right.
Let me remind us of the reasons again. Opening up the space at the rear of the nave has necessitated our finishing of that space in a way that corresponds to the beauty of the rest of the church. It allows us to move the baptismal font out so that it can be used. This reconfiguration also calls attention to the front of the nave. Here we can create greater space so that music and the altar do not overlap in a way that distracts and causes confusion. We can open up greater space for 9 a.m. worship and allow for more unified seating and growth. We can also make the worship space more hospitable for handicap access. Enjoy these ideas. Come up with more of your own, and share them on our website blog. Larry Hoy from Renovata Studios will be back after the first of the year to incorporate our ideas into further designs, and we will meet together to review them.