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Love of Others or Love of Self


What motivates your choice of seat at church? Is it prestige and prominence? Or perhaps comfort and a sense of security? Or do you select your seat based upon a desire to be friendly, serve others, and welcome newcomers. To put it simply, is you seat choice motivated by love of others or love of self?

Every Sunday morning we seem to form a nice red U of empty seats in the middle up the front. It’s occasionally broken by a few hardy souls or musicians who can’t locate a seat on the side.

I thought every church was like this until I visited the historic parish church of East Cromarty at the tip of the Black Isle in Scotland. Regular services ceased almost 100 years ago and, as a result, its layout and fittings have been preserved, almost frozen in time.

It’s a simple building in a T shape. Pews at two levels fill each branch of the T and a raised pulpit stands right at the intersection of the T. It’s perfect for maximising seating whilst giving the preacher close access to everyone.

During East Cromarty’s heyday, in the 18th and 19th Centuries, seats in front of the preacher were all the rage. The church raised funds through pew rentals and the most expensive pews were those right up front. Was it piety that motivated the more wealthy, powerful families to rent these pews, or were they more interested in a prominent display of their status within the community?

It’s a relatively minor question. But this one is not: What are your choices motivated by? Love of others or love of self?