I spent what felt like several years of my childhood shifting uncomfortably on the pews in our church. We made sure to utilise them after the service for what we understood to be their true use; a ready-made fort.
(We were not especially pious children, I believe we were spotted playing hopscotch on the gravestones and eventually rounded up hiding under the alter cloth)
The pews in Sheffield cathedral were in use for 200 years. People in people out, two centuries of worship, Pews worn from many decades of many bottoms.
Then the change, the cathedral was becoming a more open space, bright and welcoming. They wanted the floor to be even so everyone could come in and take part, a fantastic project.
With no need for the old pews, like many other churches, they sold them.
You can see these repurposed pews everywhere now, sold to trendy coffee places and vintage shops.
Then there was us.
A new fellowship, a fledgling family. Our home is an old bar in the shadow of the Cathedral. The old and the new together, a fresh expression of things to come. Birthed from the same lineage but smaller, lithe and in need of some seating.
So we went one freezing spring morning and purchased the ancient pews. Two men to a pew we brought them in. somehow they looked right at home there, on the beer stained floor, covered in the dust of our building project.
I think in a way it’s a metaphor for the church. The way we’re branching out into new and unexpected places no longer content to wait for the lost to come to us in our towering Stonewalls.
Instead you’ll find us in the most unlikely places, coffee shops, warehouses and the occasional once grotty bar.
I love seeing these old pews here. Timeless. A reminder of our rich history, of the path the church in this nation has forged and is forging. So we will fill them once again and they will be steeped in worship and love, life and family.