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Auckland Cathedral

Worship Space

Auckland Cathedral

Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral has just been reopened after being closed since the Day of Pentecost to remove a “bridge” and hanging lotus-flower-type-thing that dominated (read ‘blocked’) views from the Pacific-fale-style nave to the Gothic-Revival-influenced chancel.

Here is the view as it was:

Auckland Cathedral
Cathedral previously – with bridge and pink pendant

Simple changes in layout, and architects starting from what is wanted/needed “on the inside”, make surprising difference to our experience of worshiping as a community.

To whet your appetite further, here is the planned worship space of Mosteiro São Bento in Brazil:

Planned church

We must be clear what we want our worship space to be, now and for the future. As just one example of thinking forward, recently our Christchurch diocesan synod, with our diocese post-quakes looking forward to much building and renewal, passed the amendment I moved to a motion encouraging baptism, that our synod

encourages ministry units planning new church buildings or renewing their worship space to seriously consider having a highly-visible font in which it is clearly possible to baptise “by immersion in the water, or by pouring water on the candidate”.

There is a lot on this site about architecture aiding community worship. Enjoy exploring it. And applying it.

Auckland images source

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14 thoughts on “Worship Space”

    1. I wonder, Graham-Michoel, whether the altar area appearing to be an afterthought, as if they are looking for somewhere to place all that, rather than having built with the altar area in mind, gives the effect you mean? And if so, that reinforces my point to plan starting from inside – with the purpose of the building in mind. Blessings.

    1. I was hoping that it gives you a list of all the architecture articles on this site – does the search page you see, Br David, not give lots of links to the many architecture posts here? If not, I’ll have another look. Blessings.

  1. Exactly, I couldn’t agree more. The original plan was to have a nave sanctuary – whatever that might really mean – that descended to allow for concert space. I believe the cost was prohibitive, but any concept of a disappearing sanctuary I find quite disturbing. I have grown tired of make-shift sanctuaries and ‘altar areas’ and personally wish to get back to the proper use of a proper space. I feel that both main-steam denominations have lost the plot on this one. Am I alone in my thoughts?

  2. Sorry, my reply was to Bosco’s comment timed at 8.11 am. Sometimes this technology gets the better of me. Just as well Jesus didn’t have these problems – we might still be waiting for the Good News!

  3. From the perspective of just one evensong (last sunday) and quite a few “visiting worshipper” experiences witht he bridge in place … in fact I remember when you just had the gothic half …
    It does make a big difference. The improvements do help bring the cathedral together and highlight the space and openness. The rose window and cross on the east altar are now a focus.
    I arrived there as a skeptic but happy to say … well done.

  4. It is interesting to see your comparison of the Auckland images with the Brazilian proposal. I can understand the ‘it still looks like a concert hall’ view given the positioning of the congregational seating and the vector created lengthwise in the space. But the imaginative use of the space could radically alter the way it feels and that will be the challenge for those leading worship

  5. Re Christchurch Diocesan Synod motion.
    One of the joys in my life was to participate in the planning for reordering of the worship space in my former RC parish. My special interest, as director of the catechumenate in the parish, was baptism. We installed an immersion font, (I’ll save any discussion of the first adult baptisms in the font and the effect of an active catechumenate on a parish community for another thread), but the font, prominent and beautiful, had a huge effect on the experience of the worship space. Buildings “speak,” and teach, in ways far more profound than simple words.

    1. Thanks, Lou, for that affirmation. I am also a strong advocate of the catechumenal process. For a while it was a significant movement in NZ Anglicanism, but the church has moved on to several next-big-things further. You may be interested in the catechumenate rites I produced in my (now online) book Celebrating Eucharist. Blessings.

      1. Thank you. I’ve skimmed through the rites, and I am especially excited by the passing on (the” traditio”) of the Creed and Lord’s Prayer in a Sunday rite. Our practice was to pass on theCreed and Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of focused catechetical sessions on the fourth and fifth week of Lent, and to perform the scrutinies on those Sundays.

        One of the great treasures of the catechumenate is the role of companion, and the effect on a parish, after ten or more years, when a very large percentage of the assembly have served in that role at least once.

        Do you envision a role for the bishop in the process. Our RC diocese held a gathering of all the catechumens on the afternoon of the first Sunday of Lent at the cathedral church, for the rite of election and homily by the bishop. For many this was the first direct experience of the larger church.

        1. As I said, Lou, after being the flavour of the month, with national conferences, international experts flown in, and paid diocesan catechumenate roles, I would be hard pressed now to point to many parishes that would even know that the catechumenate is anything other than an early-church practice (if they know that), let alone follow it. So I love the idea of involving bishops, but even when the catechumenate was “in”, we didn’t have episcopal involvement in the way you describe it. Parishes, in a shrinking church (see Monday’s post on the election) can become very possessive and inward looking. Attempts to have confirmation/catechumenal formation open to anyone in the diocese leads to very, very disappointing support. Blessings.

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