Reasons for church furniture

We write in response to Colin Lusty's letter (August 18) re his disappointment at the reordering of the parish church in Rustington and subsequent visit to Chichester Cathedral.

He raises three issues: ‘Loud taped music’ – this could feature in many places we frequent. Coffee shops and restaurants spring to mind and can be an irritation not least to those of us who are musicians. Usually a polite request to turn down, or indeed, turn off, solves the problem. However, on a Sunday, I am sure he will find the glowing sounds of the pipe organ fill the building.

‘A floor which looked entirely out of place’ –Tiled floors are more manageable and safer than the previous uneven Victorian tiles and flagstones many churches still have to contend with.

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Numerous reordered churches have carefully considered flooring in the light of practicality, especially for elderly and disabled attendees, as well as for aesthetic qualities.

‘Chairs made of metal and plywood’ – many churches and cathedrals have adopted the Howe chair for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is comfort. (Those of us who have endured/enjoyed wooden pews will remember the discomfort afforded by this mass seating device).

The chairs also offer flexibility, including different seating formations, ease of movement and less intrusive stacking away when not in use.

Mr Lusty also laments the ‘massive disappointment’ that such chairs were to be found in Chichester Cathedral. A great number of our cathedrals and major churches have such chairs for the very reasons outlined above.

Flexibility and the use of the wonderful space afforded in these buildings is a key issue. The medieval fabric of our major ecclesiastical buildings is mainly under threat through lack of suitable and sustained finance.

Many are the buildings and few are the supporters on the financial side. The modernisation programme of churches has been going on for hundreds of years. For example, our Victorian forebears carried out numerous restorations with mixed results depending on your point of view.

But thanks to them, we have a heritage that is largely intact.

Finally FEAR NOT, as there are numerous bodies who protect our heritage from the ‘systematic destruction’ Mr Lusty implies is taking place.

May our churches and cathedrals become places of worship fit for the 21st century and not merely museum pieces set in aspic for the occasional visitor.

Congratulations to the loyal members of Rustington Church who have supported this imaginative scheme.

Malcolm and June Hawke


St Flora’s Road


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