New Church, New Chairs
Churches have been part of the landscape for centuries, and a village or town without one would be a sorry sight. That spire – no matter how tall or short it may be – rising above all the houses and shops is something that we probably take for granted, but is something that we should be proud of and pleased to see. Today, although a church’s main function is, of course, still the religious services aspect, the buildings are used for so many other reasons that it is likely everyone in the area has stepped inside at least once.
And if they have stepped inside, they have probably sat down. Because the reasons behind people entering a church these days may not be just to attend the Sunday service, the pews are changing, and stacking chairs are becoming a much more common sight. More comfortable, more flexible, and much easier to move around, these chairs signal the change in churches, and could even be said to be a sign that they are becoming much more inclusive. So just what might you attend church for if not to listen to your local vicar speak? Here are some ideas.
Concerts and Plays
Amateur groups in your area (and perhaps some more professional groups too) always need a place to perform, and the church is a fantastic space to do this. There will be enough seating for everyone who wants to attend, and because churches are set up with an audience in mind (the congregation, of course), and a performer (the vicar or priest) at the front, nothing much needs to be changed to the setup. There are even sound systems and speakers on hand for music and sound effects, or perhaps microphones. Bringing the community together to enjoy entertainment in their local church is a wonderful idea.
Art is so important in life that it always needs a space to be seen. The church can be an excellent way to show art to the masses – it would simply mean putting up some temporary boards and attaching the art to them. An opening night could have drinks and nibbles, and all in all the church can lend an evocative and atmospheric feeling to proceedings.
Young children can always benefit from playing with others, and parents who would otherwise be at home with their child and have no adult interaction can always benefit from a chat with people who are going through the same trials and tribulations as they are. Therefore, playgroups at church are a wonderful resource and should be utilised as much as possible by the community. The stacking chairs can easily be put to one side giving the children ample space to play and create, whilst the parents can sit with a well-earned cup of tea or coffee and chat.
Local markets can be a lifeline to those who are unable to get to the supermarket, and they are also a great way of being able to buy locally grown food and locally produced drink. You can meet the producers and farmers themselves, and often come away with a lot more in your basket for your money than you would at the supermarket. Some churches are able to offer the space for indoor markets, which, especially as the weather turns colder, can be ideal and will keep the market spirit going throughout the year.
If not a regular market, then churches can certainly often be used to host jumble sales or bring and buy sales for charity.
You can’t have failed to spot how many local post offices are closing down at the moment, and that means we are losing a precious resource that many people just can’t do without. With proper funding, it is possible to open a post office in your local church. It wouldn’t have to be open all week, perhaps just one day, but it would make a big difference, and potentially provide a much needed lifeline to the community.
In a village or town with an actively involved population, meeting spaces are always going to be needed for a variety of different talks or discussions. The church – the centre of the village or town and easily accessible for most – is a great place to hold these meetings. Whether it is about planning, the upcoming Christmas fair, the summer fete, how to clear up litter, or anything else, the church can be used. It will be big enough to hold everyone who is interested, comfortable enough for people to sit for a relatively long time, and local enough to be part of whatever it is that is happening.