Letters from 16
to 22 June 2008
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hand of the market
reading your article on pew rent, something by now nearly forgotten,
but once virtually universal! (I only imagine the bitter cries, "But
this has always been the Anglican tradition. . . ")
back the history of one of my clerical predecessors in a New England
parish, I found that he had come there from a church in Hamilton,
Ontario. So, while on holiday one year, I visited his one-time
Hamilton parish and discovered that he was still remembered gratefully
and kindly (even some 80 years later) because in the late 1880's
he had overseen the construction of their new church building
and made only one demand: that there be NO pews in the church,
so no one could ever claim pew ownership! The church is still
furnished with "cathedral chairs".
the absence of pew rent has always led to an absence of "ownership" of
a pew. I recall in my youth devoutly kneeling before Mass in Church
of the Advent, Boston, only to feel a tap on the shoulder: "Young
man," said this very properly dressed elderly lady, "You are sitting
in MY pew!" I moved hastily!
The Order of Julian of Norwich
Hartland, Wisconsin, USA
16 June 2008
Heaven rejects the lore | Of nicely-calculated less or more'
appreciate and am often informed by your editorials. The comments
about pew rentals were no exception. However, I have had the experience
of knowing two people who believed that church attendance carried
with it an obligation to pay.
was serving at a parish in Maryland, I became concerned because
an otherwise faithful couple had not attended the Eucharist for
three weeks. When I called to inquire if they were experiencing
difficulties, they quite reluctantly said that they had not
come to the liturgy because they had fallen behind in their pledge
payment and were embarrassed by that fact. When I
recovered from my surprise, I told them that, of course, they
were always welcome in God's house under any circumstances. They
did come the following Sunday and again expressed their embarassment
about their unpaid pledge. Another discussion ensued about God's
grace and love and the couple left, hopefully secure in the knowledge
that the doors of St. Peter's Church — not to mention the pews!
— were always open to them.
most of us realize that, in this society, money is equated with
success, privilege, and a host of other things, both good and
bad. However, how does our right and proper teaching on stewardship
of time, talent and treasure, reinforce the message of society
that the more money we have the better we are? Or, to put it another
way, the more money we give to the church, the better Christians
we are. From that destructive assumption, it is but a very short
and unconscious leap to make that God's love depends on the size
of our bank accounts.
Richmond, Indiana, USA
16 June 2008
grew up in an Anglican church in Toronto — St Peter's Bleeker
Street — where a sign posted in the narthex (in the 1940s and
1950s) read "All pews in this church are free." My father explained
the significance to me and I felt good about our church, especially
when I visited churches where the "owner's" name was placed prominently
by the aisle.
St Paul's Church, Bloor Street
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
20 June 2008
sure why you continue to point to stories from the Sydney Morning
Herald in your NEWS section without also pointing people to a
source which may give an alternate view from that of the author.
For example, why not point people to what the Archbishop of Sydney
himself has said, such as the four-minute interview which can
be seen here: http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/media/video/?bcpid=1321273398&bclid=1376842859&bctid=1604920325
St Andrew's Roseville
Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA
16 June 2008
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