Chapel Makeover Pt I: Moving the furniture

St Anselm’s is a lovely little chapel with a very simple altar and furnishings and lots of natural light. Even though I love the space, ever since we started worshiping there I’ve felt that something just wasn’t quite right with our physical setup.  Take a look at this picture and see if you agree:

Chairs, chairs, chairs!

Yes, chairs, chairs, chairs!  Maybe I’m just a bit on the claustrophobic side but I felt generally hemmed in by a liturgical fence of too many chairs and hymnal racks.  We were set up in a U-shaped configuration rather than traditional straight rows but it still seemed too stilted.

Here’s another shot facing the altar:

Still crowded, both in the “pews” and around the altar.

So, we decided to experiment:

  • First, some of those chairs just had to go!  We moved about 15 chairs out.  Instant open space!
  • The altar is massive and appears permanently fixed where it is.  The pulpit on the left of the altar and piano on the right, on the other hand, could be shifted.
  • We moved the piano to the back corner and now have a flexible spot for singers and guest musicians to set up music stands and/or equipment.
  • We moved the pulpit to the opposite end of the room, facing the altar.  Our priest typically does not use the pulpit to preach; however, the pulpit is still available for reading the Gospel or for visiting preachers.  We now have more room to gather at the altar for Eucharist.
  • We moved out all of the connecting book racks.  With the chairs are not hooked together we had the flexibility to form curved rows in a semicircle from the altar to the pulpit.  At first it was TOO big a circle—too much space!  We brought the rows in just a bit and that seemed to fix that issue.

Here’s where we are so far.  See what you think:

Altar view


Piano & Pulpit

There’s more to come (Makeover Pt 2?)  If you have any suggestions, let me know.  Thanks for reading!

6 Comments on “Chapel Makeover Pt I: Moving the furniture

    • Thanks! I think so, too. It’s a wonderful space. We are thinking about wall hangings, candles, etc now. Also considering updates to the labyrinth, but that’s out doors and a whole different story!

  1. I like it, too. You might introduce the idea of “writing” icons to the students and challenge them to make some for the walls. This would make a good learning opportunity for all kinds of things re: spirituality, Eastern Orthodoxy meditation ideas, etc. If you want some info, I’ve got some resources.
    Like your ideas.


    • I’d love to see your info on icons! I don’t think I’m familiar with writing icons but it sounds like it would be interesting for the students. (There’s also plenty of wall space to utilize in the Chapel Center house!) There was also a project started ages ago to create a stained glass cross for each of the 12 narrow windows in the Chapel. Only one was finished, I think. Would be a wonderful addition to that space.

      Come and join us for service/supper on Sunday night some time!

  2. Alisa ~ The chapel looks much better this way.

    Fr Ed Scully

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