A Name and Purpose

Did you know that in the long history and tradition of the church most every item used in worship and every area used in worship has a specific name and purpose?

For example, we refer to the space where we worship as a "sanctuary." Its original meaning referred to a sacred space where one could find safety and is derived from the Latin word "sanctuarium," and pertains to an area or container to hold holy things or even holy people.

In church architecture the area where the people gather/congregate (therefor called the congregation) is called the "nave," and the space in front is called the "chancel" where a chancel choir would reside and where the pastor and worship leaders sit, and traditionally the chancel will be located in the east end of a Christian church building.

The most visual component in the chancel area is the "altar" which serves as a structure upon which offerings, such as sacrifices, are made for religious purposes. Many of the world's religions have an altar where gifts to God are offered. An altar is a sacred space for the Bible and candles (the candle flames symbolizes the presence of God's Holy Spirit), a cross, offering plates/baskets, and other elements which enhance the visual worship experience.

The chancel area may also include visual elements to enhance the worship experience. Some churches have baptismal pools and fountains, plants and greenery, and others may have elaborate works of religious art and stained-glass windows. Through the gift of a generous church family we now have some beautiful greenery to adorn the chancel area and visually enhance the chancel space.

A space off the chancel area is usually designated as a "sacristy" which holds the items and elements used in sacred worship such as communion items, vestments worn by clergy, candles, crosses, and paraments (the materials draped over the altar.) We have recently designated the room to the right of the chancel area as a sacristy, and thanks to the hard work of Terry VanDyke we now have a space dedicated to storing our sacred worship items.

We have a beautiful sanctuary and we are all invited to experience it as a sacred and holy space where we may encounter God's holy presence in a more profound and meaningful way. And now you know!