Church Seating as Luxury Then, Godsend Comfort for the Masses Now

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Even for a Catholic, many aspects inside the Church—from altar objects to holy garments and liturgical rituals—yield themselves as founts of the mystery they hold. The same can be said perhaps for its most visible, often nondescript object, the church pew. However, the relationship of church and seating has a story that seems as blurry as the Gospel of Judas. Often, for the unostentatious function in the service of worshippers that church pews perform—or perhaps, for their meek, mysterious origin—a lot of people posit there’s something a bit of the sacred about these furniture when you think about it.

John Fowler, a former barrister-at-law who wrote an 1844 paper about pews, advanced that pews may have been made in large numbers during the Reformation when Christianity started to split into Catholics and Protestants. Prior to that event, seats inside the church were more extravagant and were often considered as luxury objects. In some churches, there were no seats at all. That was back in the 16th century when the Pope had a strong influence in religion and politics; mass at churches then called for standing and kneeling only.

Engeneering Tools

Even long after the divide when the Catholic Church adopted pews for its use, seating then came with a price if attendees wanted a bit of comfort not only for their soul, but also for their back and legs.

Pews meant luxury then, and the practice persists today in some churches. But at some point in history, church pews, whether simple or intricately carved, became a symbol of God’s throng of devotees. Like the priest’s blessings at the end of the service, pews were spread out like godsend to be shared by everyone, for free.

Wood Curving

Orthodox Christianity views church pews as having a direct and distinct effect on worship. Pews encourage attendees to sit and watch as the liturgy unfolds before them. If anything, whatever the great schism through the centuries, practical reasons, more than any other, fuel the need for routine pew refinishing (such as those offered by Covenant Church Furniture). Convenience is the magic word, if not a sacred one.

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