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Questions about Chairs in the Sanctuary


As the wardens are reaching out to as many people as possible this week, a number of questions have arisen and we feel it is important for our communication to be thorough, robust and transparent.  So in that vein, we are going to share both the questions and the answers each day this week, as they arise.  These are questions arising from the motion proposed for the Special Vestry that has been called for Monday June 29th at 7 pm.

You can find more information regarding this vestry and the motion here:

Special Vestry Details

Please share your questions with one of the wardens or with Ruthanne or Phil anytime this week and we'll do our best to answer them.


Who can vote at a Special Vestry meeting?


If you can attest to this declaration and attend the meeting, you are entitled to vote.


"I solemnly declare that I have been a member of the Anglican Church of Canada and of this congregation for at least three (3) months, that I have attended regularly scheduled services of worship with this congregation at least three (3) times in the past year, that I am of the full age of sixteen (16) years and that I have not voted as a member of any other vestry during the previous three (3) months, nor do I intend to vote in any other vestry during the ensuing year”.


How is a motion passed?


By the positive vote of a simple majority.


How, if not everyone can attend, do we feel confident that the vote is truly the will of the church as a whole?


As Christians, we come to such meetings prayerfully.  We pray that God will guide us by the wisdom of God’s Spirit and we trust that this will happen.  We are not being invited to vote on whether or not we like the idea of chairs in the sanctuary.  We are being invited to vote on the motion after prayerful consideration answering the question - is this the direction we sense God’s Spirit leading us at this time?


Even when we meet in the church for a “normal” special vestry, not everyone is able to attend.   This is where we place our trust in each other to follow God’s lead.  It isn’t an exact science, but we do believe in a God who “can do more than we can ask or imagine.”


With chairs in the choir area, will there be less seating available?  With the pews we can squeeze more people in.


The chairs will allow us, once choirs can get back to singing, to place as many as we need in the choir area and so there will be enough chairs for all the choir.  The chairs will also allow for some distancing between people, which from now on will be more desirable.


Why are we voting on this now and not later in the fall when we are back together?


The Corporation (that is, the wardens and incumbent) discussed the timing at length.  It was decided that with no one in the church during the summer months, it allowed for us to do the work of removing and rehoming pews with minimal disruption.  If we wait until the fall, this puts us into moving pews possibly in the winter months.


The chairs we have chosen have an order and delivery time of 4 to 5 months (a normal time line for custom chairs).  We will, for a time, need to use a combination of pews and folding chairs.  Our goal is to have everything finished by Christmas.


There is so much need in our communities right now, why are we not giving this money to the poor?


This money, which was set aside from the sale of St. John’s Blackstock at the time Rev. Canon John Anderson was Incumbent, was earmarked for use towards the promotion of ministry within the church.  Whatever monies are remaining after the period of time we have to make these decisions (which has now been extended again because of the pandemic) will go back to the Diocese for their use.


Using the funds for charitable donations was not put in the original intentions for this money.


That said, the church values contributing to the community, especially in places of need.  This is why we continue to work closely with the food bank and with North House, particularly developing the Poverty Coalition and offering fundraisers specific to their needs.


What about the other ideas that came up in our conversations, led by Lucy Black.  Why are we not pursuing those (i.e. updating washrooms)?


It is important to note that this idea of “chairs in the sanctuary” was raised by a parishioner during the conversations that Lucy Black facilitated in January of this year.  Other good ideas also were proposed.  Those ideas are not necessarily off the table. 


It is important to remember that if we pass this motion, we still have approximately $80, 000 left in that account to discuss the use of.  We may also feel that further building renovations should not be funded through those monies, but through other avenues such as grants and fundraising.

The chairs fit the mandate of the use of that money for these reasons:

  • in the short term, chairs will allow for better use of the space in a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, both for the church and for community groups who may wish to use or rent our space - we do not know how long this time period may last, but it is believed that how we gather will be forever changed because of this pandemic
  • In the longer term - this allows us to be more flexible with the kinds of services we offer (i.e. a small mid-week eucharist would be easier with a few chairs moved into a circle; a family service, on a Sunday afternoon, can be arranged to allow for activities and movement of younger people; the arts community has expressed an interest in using our space if we had more comfortable seating available)

Both of these reasons speak to ministry.  The ministry we offer within our community to one another and the ministry we want to offer more broadly to the larger community.


How can we gather in the back laneway when only 10 people are allowed to gather at once?


As of this past week, Ontario has moved to stage 2 of reopening.  This includes allowing churches to gather with up to 30% of their building capacity.  The Anglican Church has decided not to reopen for worship until early September, if it is then still allowed.  So, we are allowed, according to the government, to gather up to approximately 40 people.  Since we are doing this outside, which is safer, and we will be certain to make sure everyone is distanced from each family group, we are comfortable that we are being both safe and responsible to government guidelines.


Hand sanitizer will be available and spaces marked with chalk for where to place your camp chairs (if you bring them).  Please wear a mask if it is comfortable for you to do so.  If it is hot, we certainly understand that this is not advisable.  And bring your own pen to sign the declaration for voting.