An Episcopal church in the New York suburbs is hoping that the removal of two dozen pews from the sanctuary will make the church feel less empty and more inviting.
St. Bartholomew’s Church in White Plains, an 80-year-old congregation that like many mainline Protestant churches has experienced shrinking membership, hatched the plan as part of an effort to create a more intimate space for worship that could appeal to visitors.
“When people visited before, it seemed like a museum,” said the Rev. Gawain de Leeuw, rector of St. Bart’s for five years. “The church seemed empty. Each person could have had their own pew. Changing our sanctuary space immediately changed the way people feel in the church. It’s an important start.”