One of the more visible shifts related to our work on the lab is that the 10:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Masses at St. Joseph are still taking place in the hall at St. Joseph. For the past couple of years, we’ve had worship in the hall over the summer months because the hall has air conditioning. This has made it a far more comfortable environment to worship in when it’s hot and humid outside. While it’s no longer hot and humid, people have been asking why we haven’t moved back into the sanctuary (the church) yet. Good question! We haven’t moved back to the sanctuary because we have been exploring the possibility of staying in the hall moving forward for a number of reasons:
1. The sound in the hall is far clearer and less distracting than the sanctuary. The acoustics of the sanctuary are beautiful, but that space was not designed for amplified sound. When the speakers, monitors, and instruments of a band combine with the reverb and sound reflections of the sanctuary, it creates a sound that is very loud and muddy. Loudness, especially loudness without clarity, can be a significant distraction to worship.
2. The sightlines of the hall are far clearer than the sanctuary. While the design of the sanctuary is aesthetically more pleasing than the hall in its current state, the sanctuary has significant sightline limitations. There isn’t a place to set up a screen for a projector. That limits us to projecting on back walls, which are in significant need of repainting (and which further obscures the projected image). Even if we installed a screen, significant portions of the seating are obstructed by columns. These sightlines create an environment that keeps a lot of people from fully participating in the Mass. Space limitations limit the band (the worship team) to setting up off to the side where they are visually obstructed from the congregation.
3. The space in the hall is more flexible for families with children. In the church, if you need to step out with a young child, you have two options: go outside (where it may be raining or very cold) or go to the very front of the church (which can be uncomfortable for the parent and distracting for the congregation). In the hall, there is more space for families with kids to move around in the back of the worship space and it is much easier to exit the back of the hall where bathrooms are easily accessible. Worship in the hall also keeps parents closer to our kids’ worship experiences: Tiny Disciples and Kids’ Church, which take place in the lower hall.
All of that being said, we fully recognize that the hall is not an ideal worship space in its current state. Visually, the hall feels like a temporary space. Fellowship after Mass (coffee and donuts) is certainly possible but not ideal given space limitations and set up.
Neither the church nor the hall is ideal for our vision of worship, but one possible way forward is to outfit and design the space in the hall to meet the needs outlined above while at the same time preserving the beauty of the sanctuary. The 7:30am Sunday Mass, daily Masses, weddings, and funerals continue to take place in the sanctuary.
As we explore the possibility of staying in the hall moving forward, we’re focusing on two main tasks:
- Looking for feedback and input from people in our community. We don’t have all the answers and we want to hear from you! Enter your contact info below to set up a time to chat with our team. We’d love your input and ideas.
- Exploring what some immediate upgrades to the hall could accomplish: improving lighting, specifically around the altar and ambo; changing the visual look and feel of the space; attaching kneelers to the chairs; putting the altar and ambo on risers for better sightlines and visibility.
Our worship space matters deeply because it affects how we are able to enter into worship. Whatever space we use for worship, we want to remove obstacles and distractions that get in the way of people meeting God--of having an encounter with the one true, living God who brings healing, hope, and purpose into our lives, our community, and our world.