This week, after a long process, 300 new chairs have been delivered to our church.
This is the first part of our Building for Ministry project to be completed. The new chairs have been chosen with the building extension and refurbishment in mind, and were included in the Building for Ministry budget.
Over the coming weeks we will experiment with the chairs and the best way to set them up for church. We will then share instructions on pack up, setup and care.
For now, please come and give them a test drive!
Why chairs matter
On one hand the quality of our chairs is not a big issue. They are only chairs. We care about people – connecting people with Jesus, growing each other in Christ and serving Him. Yet, on the other hand, our chairs are important. Everyone who visits our church has direct contact with our chairs! People of all ages use them each week to listen to God’s word, to pray and to welcome and relate with each other. If our chairs distract people by their appearance or lack of comfort, they will work against the ministry we want to do.
Why we need new chairs
Our pews have served us well for many years, but we have now reached the point where multiple stains and tears present a distracting and ‘shabby’ image to visitors.
How we got here…
The decision was not easy. We have been careful to consider the needs of everyone who uses our building. We have taken time to search out options, see what other churches have done, trial samples, seek the advice of experts and listen to feedback from various representative groups within our church family.
Pews or Individual Chairs?
We have thought hard about whether to re-upholster our present pews, or to replace them with suitable new individual chairs.
At the end of August 2018, the Parish Council decided upon individual chairs. The main reasons for this were…
- Chairs are far more flexible, and easily able to be moved and re-arranged
- Chairs are more contemporary, and will fit better with the planned work on our building
- Chairs can be arranged so that everyone is facing the front
- The cost to refurbish the pews was roughly the same as buying new chairs
Which chair did we get?
Within our budget, two broad kinds of chair were investigated: padded chairs and hard chairs (timber and/or moulded plastic).
Although some hard chairs can look good, and would be easy to maintain, they have the downsides of being cold, less comfortable (one size fits all) and more difficult to stack and store. The best hard chairs were also well over our budget.
The best overall option and our final choice was the “Seeger” chair (same style as picture above – though not the same colour) from Civic Australia. Its features and benefits are…
- A sturdy black frame with a linking mechanism
- Upholstered seat and back – Warwick fabric, scotchguard protected
- The fabric colour will be dark grey with a fleck.
- Highly resilient fire retardant foam seat and back rest
- Stackable to 10 high on the floor
- Rated to 150kg
- 5 year warranty
- 20 chairs will have arm rests to assist those with limited mobility
- It has been used at Engadine Anglican for 7 years and still looks good
It was consistently rated as the most comfortable option by those who tested it (including people with bad backs, people shorter and taller than average, and people with limited mobility).
How did we pay for them?
The Building for Ministry budget already included an allowance for upgrading/replacing our chairs. The new chairs fit within this budget and have been fully covered by funds already collected.
Where did the pews go?
The bulk of the pews have been given to a Tongan church group in Western Sydney. They are looking to move into a larger church building and need more seats. A few were given to a theatre group in Wollongong. We have also kept 4 to be recovered and used in our crèche.
We’d particularly like to thank Mel Balhatchet (our Administration Manager) for her patience and diligence in pursuing every possible option.
We trust that the new chairs will serve our ministry well for many years to come.
Ryan Broom, Paul Johnston, John Manning (Wardens)
Neil Fitzpatrick (Minister)