Steps planned to reduce noise as worship begins

A note from the Worship Associates Team

Our members and friends may recall that we had a couple of “Congregational Conversations” in February and March as part of our search for a new Director of Music Ministry. The Worship Associates co-sponsored the first conversation because it specifically explored the relationship between music and the worship experience. Those conversations raised some concerns about our worship together that we want to address.

One of the things mentioned repeatedly was the level of noise in the sanctuary during the prelude. The prelude should be a time for congregants to center themselves and prepare for worship. In our congregation, it has become common for people to continue their conversations while entering the sanctuary, or after they’ve taken a seat, and sometimes even raise their voices over the music. Many found this disruptive to their own worship experience and/or disrespectful to musicians who’ve come to share their gifts of music with the congregation.

We know this isn’t intentional – we are just a gregarious lot! And, as a congregation, we have not been all that clear about what we expect at the beginning of service. The Worship Associates have now identified several steps intended to rectify this situation. We will be experimenting with these ideas over the summer to see which have the most merit, and we wanted to let you know what to expect.

First, please be aware that the prelude starts a few minutes before the scheduled service time. We will let you know that the prelude is about to begin by ringing the bell, just as we do now. There will also be an announcement from the pulpit, for those already seated. Ushers will then close all but one of the sanctuary doors. Signs on the doors will remind folks to enter quietly at that point – and also serve as a reminder for those remaining in the greeting area during the service that they should be mindful of how easily sound carries into the sanctuary.

The Worship Associates hope congregants will find that these changes help improve their worship experience. We will be revisiting what we think works (and doesn’t) at future Worship Associate meetings. We would welcome comments and suggestions as we test the process this summer. Feel free to contact us by email.