Seating at Burton Pedwardine Church

At the church of St Andrew, at Burton Pedwardine in Lincolnshire’s district of North Kesteven, the chairs have a most unusual arrangement. Rather than having the standard pews all facing the front, chairs are laid out in an oblong, allowing each worshipper to see and hear the other. I have seen Brethren gospel halls arrange their seating in a not dissimilar manner. It quietly communicates the priesthood of all believers, and allows for truly congregational worship, rather than the one-man-ministry of all facing the leader, such as we have at Salem Chapel each Lord’s Day. That said, our seating arrangement rightly points to the pulpit, the station from which God’s word is read and preached. Our prayers and songs are important as they speak out thoughts to God, but preaching the Word is hearing God’s thoughts toward us. This presumes that the preacher is sound, faithful and has bothered to prepare, of course.

I found St Andrew’s arrangement quite refreshing, especially for a parish church with its system of ordained ministry. Nevertheless, I pray that hearing God’s word remains the focus of each and every time we gather.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24