Pew Disorder

In olden days there sometimes were churches that had pews that were in boxes with doors on the aisle ends. The box pews, as they were called, served a couple of purposes. First, they were warmer than bench pews where the cold could sweep through the whole church. Families sat together in their box and could bring hot stones in a box to act as a little furnace in their family box.

Some churches had families pay to have their box and thus would know their seat would be available to them, no matter what time they arrived at church. I am unsure where poorer people sat in churches with paid boxes, but it certainly could not be as desirable as the pew box.

I am a church creature of habit. We don’t have pew boxes in our sanctuary, but for 23 years Russ and I, and sometimes Carter have been sitting in the same place every Sunday, the second row on the right hand side, closest to the window. I like this place for many reasons.

First, I am distracted by people in church who are not paying attention. (This is rich since I needlepoint in my pew) If I had rows of people in front of me I might be watching them and not listening to the sermon.

Second, I am a terrible singer, but like to sing out nonetheless. In the second row we usually don’t have anyone directly in front of us, so I am not singing badly into someone’s ear. I am close enough to the choir to use their good singing as cover for my bad.

Third, I am a laugh out loud sermon listener. So when I laugh it gives the not used to laughing at church people behind me a chance to laugh and it ripples back through the congregation.

Forth, I have excellent hearing and I don’t like to be distracted by people near me making noise. In the sound row there are rarely any noisy people that close to God.

For years the second row was our place. Some years we shared it with a family of six and it was a little tight, but we liked them. Sadly their family broke apart and so we were alone in our row.

A few years ago our church had our pews refinished. When they removed them they decided to make handicapped seating in our row and the one in front. That meant they shortened our pew leaving a space for a wheel chair on the outside. Ours was not the only place this happened and most of the wheel chair congregants choose the back row, rather than the front. So we retained our place.

The shortening of our pew meant that the pew behind us was longer and thus the seat on the end had an infinite about of leg room, as long as someone in a wheelchair wasn’t parked in front.

During Covid the Covid committee decided that people should sit in every other or every third pew and little braided ropes were placed across the end of pews that were forbidden. Russ and I moved back to the third pew where Russ enjoyed the leg room. He called it the “Exit row seating” like on a plane.

Now that Covid is calm people are allowed to sit where they want. Russ is happy in the third row so that is where we are for now. I, with my supersonic hearing can hear people behind us talking all through church and I find it annoying. I can’t imagine that the preachers don’t notice. It’s not like school where the teacher would stop the lesson and ask the offending talkers if they had something to share with the class.

I like the idea of having a paid pew box, we are almost guaranteed to have our seats when we come in. You have to get to church fairly early if you want the back row, but the front is almost always available. I am not sure if Russ will ever want to go back to the second row, unless he is in a wheel chair, but that better not happen. So for now I will endure the noise made by others whom I am now sitting closer to. I wonder if It would look strange if I sat in the front row and Russ sat in the third row?



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