All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Sunday, December 10th, 2023

Church removed its pews for open-concept sanctuary

Traditional pews have been replaced with comfortable chairs and even tables when necessary. Sue Capon photos

St. Andrew’s in Picton likely has more spoons than any other church in Prince Edward County – good thing too, because they’re often brought out of the kitchen to be used as musical instruments.
Such was the case Sunday during the County Ceilidh which celebrated the King Street Picton church’s newly-renovated, open-concept sanctuary.
The brand new glass doors were opened to welcome the community for an afternoon of wine, food, music and a photographic presentation “Ode to the County” by photographer Phil Norton.

Rev. Lynne Donovan hands out spoons to be used a musical accompaniment with Tom Leighton and Conrad Kippin's celtic favourites.

Celtic music by Tom Leighton and Conrad Kipping was met with toe-tapping and some dancing in the aisles. There’s plenty of room for that now as there are no longer pews restricting movement in the sanctuary.
“In renovating our sanctuary, we have sought to create a space that is not only beautiful, but also flexible,” says Rev. Lynne Donovan. “We are currently in conversation with organizations who have inquired about a potential film festival, art classes, children’s summer camp, Mozart festival and yoga conference. We would love to hear how people can imagine this space being used to support community health and vitality.”

The celebration of the new open concept sanctuary included tasty tidbits.

Wine from Black Prince, hot mulled cider, coffee and tea - all poured with a smile.

St. Andrew’s calls itself a circle of friends committed to partnering with people and organizations who share a vision for a healthy human community.
In 2008, in partnership with David Riley, permaculture expert, the church hosted annual sheet-mulch gardening workshops and continue to make community gardening space available to the public.
St. Andrew’s shares its space with Transition PEC, an organization devoted to conversations around sustainable practices in order to meet the challenges of global warming and peak oil. It also became home to the Prince Edward County Glee Club, with Michael Reason, musical director, and Hilary Fennel, choreographer, on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. Call Hilary at 613-392-0164 for details.
Call Rev. Lynne Donovan at 613-476-6024 for more on St. Andrew’s.

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  1. Margaret says:

    Time will tell if it matters, Michael. It’s easy to dump history but impossible to call it back.


  2. Killa says:

    So what did they do with the old pews? Any chance I could get one? And just to throw this out for comment, the original meaning of church was a gathering of people for worship, not a place.

  3. Michael Reason says:

    In the grand scheme of life, Margaret, does it really matter?

  4. Margaret says:

    Michael, personally, I have never found church pews that uncomfortable. Apparently,Presbyterians are not as well upholstered as Picton’s Anglicans, Methodists, and Roman Catholics. They still have their pews.

    Not long ago, a Presbyterian church member confided to me that some of the concerts presented at St. Andrew’s are relatively long. She added that the pews became uncomfortable during these events. I suspect that they did not cause a problem for one-hour church services, but when occupied for lengthier periods, for concerts, they became uncomfortable. Could this be the real reason that they were removed?


  5. Michael Reason says:

    I assume you are aware, Margaret, that St. Andrews is expecting delivery of new comfortable chairs that will replace the pews. Surely God would appreciate the fact that worshipers will now be able to sit in comfort. A place of worship, in my opinion, should be comfortable and inviting in this day and age. The new chairs and the way that St.Andrews have done their redesign will actually make the church a much warmer and peaceful place. You don’t need old wooden and uncomfortable pews to give dignity to a house of God.

  6. Margaret says:

    I agree, Michael. Churches have been in the entertainment business for a long time. In fact, I helped to organize several benefit concerts for Glenwood Cemetery, which were held at Picton United Church and one that took place at St. Mary Magdalene Church.

    When the Quinte Summer Music Festival first took place in Picton, approximately 25 years ago, many shows took place in our local churches. However,none of the participating churches removed their pews to accommodate these performances. The churches were first and foremost places of worship.


  7. Michael Reason says:

    Churches have always been in the “entertainment” business. There are literally thousands of concerts held in churches across Canada each year. I, for one, have given many concerts in churches. The churches were always very appreciative of the rental money I provided for the use of their facilities. What St. Andrews have done is what a church should be – a place of worship and a resource for the community. Bravo!

  8. Margaret says:

    No surprise there, Theresa, Everyone knows pews were not available for the Sermon on the Mount. The pews and pulpits at St. Andrew’s were more than just furniture. They symbolized the history and dignity of the church. Now,it has been gutted to be reborn as an entertainment/community centre. Innovative repurposing for a new age or a well-intentioned but misguided move that may be regretted one day? Please, God, let the sheet mulching stop short of the old churchyard burial ground where some staunch Presbyterians no doubt still lie in unmarked graves.

  9. Theresa Durning says:

    Pardon my typo (congregation)…hope “God” doesn’t take exception! Thank you Rev. Lynne for your innovative approach.

  10. Theresa Durning says:

    It’s hard to believe someone could be stuck on pews and pulpits when, at one time, few (if any) churches offered any kind of seating. The Congregation of St. Andrews has done exactly what congretions everywhere should be doing, keeping in touch with the community and the times. I don’t think “God” really cares about decor.

  11. Ken says:

    Margaret, St. Andrews was in decline with it’s parish. This change might help them with attracting new people to the church. It’s hard to retain your dignity when the ink is running into the red all the time.

  12. Margaret Haylock says:

    The perfect venue for variety shows, but I think God just went out the window with the pews. The county already has the Regent, Mt. Tabor, and several concert halls. The Bible does encourage us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, but this is over the top. One of Picton’s finest old churches has just lost its dignity, along with its pews and the pulpit. Now, it’s in the entertainment business. Sad to think that some young Presbyterians may grow up believing that Jesus and The Twelve Apostles is a rock band.

  13. I had a fabulous time! Tom & Conrad always put on a great show, and Phil’s photos were terrific! I even called my sons in New Brunswick and Chicago so they could hear the live fiddle music.
    Thanks, Lynne & members of St. Andrew’s, for including me in your celebration.

  14. This was a wonderful event, such a celebration of community spirit, so happy Bruce and I were a part of it.

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