The Best Narthex in Christendom

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FrGareth
Posts: 210
Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:01 am
Parish / Diocese: Archdiocese of Cardiff

The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by FrGareth » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:11 pm

On the grounds that a Narthex is a liturgical space, I hope this isn’t off-topic…

We are looking to re-design our church's narthex. How do we minimise clutter, while allowing it to be a community space? Do you know any really good examples of churches that deal with all the “stuff” we are sent to give out, without it sprawling? Is there a better solution than spreading it all on a table? The kind of stuff I am thinking of would include:
  • Parish newsletter
    Church newsletter
    Diocesan newspaper
    The Universe and other newspapers
    Gift Aid envelope boxes
    Christmas cards being exchanged by parishioners
    Envelopes left “to be picked up” by a named person
    Free magzines from missionary organisations
    Prayer cards, e.g. for the death of Cardinal Cormac
    Walk With Me or similar seasonal booklets
    Temporary appeal material from CAFOD and missionary societies including envelopes
In the hope of avoiding re-inventing the wheel, if you have already seen the best Narthex in Christendom, tell me what was good about it so I can steal the ideas!
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Revd Gareth Leyshon - Priest of the Archdiocese of Cardiff (views are my own)
Personal website: http://www.garethleyshon.info
Parish website: http://www.sphilipevans.co.uk/

oopsorganist
Posts: 754
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 9:55 pm
Location: Leeds

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by oopsorganist » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:40 am

Put all the papers in a file (bin bag) and have a nice bunch of flowers on table with a sign that says Welcome to our parish. Or a candle. Or maybe a small fountain. A bible. Have a human being whose job is to welcome people and direct them to any information they need. Any information. Get them a badge or a hat to indicate their role.

There are different groups that arrive in the church. One very small group think they can use it as post office and are blind to the detritus, or think it spreads information. It doesn't. A larger group come occasionally to go to Mass or whatever and are not looking to read the Catholic Herald. Ever.
Some are there for the first time. They'll see a badly organised space. The casually curious will not be interested or will scoff. Those is need of help won't be able to find it.

Just ban Christmas cards. They are evil. Put up some mistletoe and encourage people to embrace whilst donating the money they would have spent on bits of cardboard to a worthy charity direct, without destroying a rain forest.

What am I talking about? It is Traditional to have a cluttered table, wall, shelves on the way into church. Big up the papers and add to them. Home made cakes and a tombola are good, as is that classic item.... The Piety Stall.
uh oh!

JW
Posts: 812
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:46 am
Location: Kent

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by JW » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:29 pm

The larger the space and the more cupboards and shelves and noticeboards it has, with an appropriate place for everything, the better it will look. Your welcoming should shoulder the responsibility of making sure everything is tidied up properly at the end of Mass.
JW

markyboy2000
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:59 pm
Parish / Diocese: Middlesbro

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by markyboy2000 » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:35 pm

Most of the items listed are ephermeral.
Designate persons to: remove out-of-date collection envelopes (such as Cafod - I've seen tables with both Lent and Harvest envelopse);
remove ANY dog-earred offerings, no matter how relevant; and thin out the prayer board, maybe by operating an invisible fortnightly grid.
We have only a shelf, so underneath we get the collected stuff, foodbank, old cards, refugees etc; make it clear which pile is which, and again make sure someone will collect/distribute the offerings.It is possible to buy persepx stands from several suppliers, these reduce the spread.

markyboy2000
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:59 pm
Parish / Diocese: Middlesbro

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by markyboy2000 » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:36 pm

And a few free-to-use but hopefully return Rosaries are a must!

oopsorganist
Posts: 754
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 9:55 pm
Location: Leeds

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by oopsorganist » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:50 pm

Does the level of demand require more than one? You could have a couple of huge ones bolted to a bench in the church, or something like an abacus, and that would do the trick.
Oh we had such a marvellous narthex. Well I guess it was a porch. It had been a big room, a baptistry at one point with huge, I mean huge, glass doors leading to the side isle. Iron framed glass doors. How they never got swung to destruction I do not know. There were regular crashes as people opened them without getting the weight right.
Then the porch or whatever it was, was sub divided into a porch with kitchen sink corner and disabled toilet and a largish room in which was housed miscellaneous furniture. Cupboards. A piety stall. Three or four huge school dinner tables and some plastic chairs. One potted plant (dead) and some very old religious prints and statues in varying stages of decay. Used for meetings and sometimes for the Mass or similar services. The gas heater attached to an external wall, had died many years ago.
In the remaining porch there was a notice board running the full length of the wall. On it were pinned everything that was every sent, printed off or hand written ... rotas, notices, photos, posters for Gaelic Football and Posters for adopting a baby. Retreats, Conferences, Newsletters. Guidance for those who had had an abortion. Singles clubs. I could go on. Oh, and a mirror hung on a nail in case pedestrian congregation should arrive windswept and need to adjust their faces. In the Holy Water dish, which has a better name I am sure, there was a margarine tub covered in tin foil. This was to prevent the thing leaking because it was cracked. And the kitchen sink area. My word, oh my.
I did rip it all down a couple of times, and re back it and order it nicely, but it soon collected stuff again. What was needed was a screwdriver and maybe some other tools. It should have been removed and filed under bin. It could have all been put into a Newsletter and that is the only thing that is needed.
uh oh!

quaeritor
Posts: 331
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: oxfordshire

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by quaeritor » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:14 pm

Narthex? - Shmarthex! - I was a reasonably fluent member of the church for more than half a century before I suddenly found myself inundated by these pseudo intellectual pseudo Greek words - narthexes and praxises and most recently charisms (incidentally all rejected by my spell checker :D ) - and yes, I do know that those are not correct plural forms - I wonder how many people who trot out these neologisms can accurately define them? (I looked them up and couldn't understand the definitions anyway :oops: )

(And yes, I apologise - it's too late on a stressful Sunday to be posting - but it's fun! :D

Q

alan29
Posts: 1091
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 8:04 pm
Location: Wirral

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by alan29 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:28 pm

One of our parish priests removed the back few rows of pews to create a narthex when our hall was condemned because of asbestos.
Fifteen years later it is now happily called "the back of the church" by all.
I don't mind a bit of clutter there. Its a sign of a parish where not everyone is either dead or dying, and "stuff" is going on.

oopsorganist
Posts: 754
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 9:55 pm
Location: Leeds

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by oopsorganist » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:02 am

That is a proper Narthex then. A bit at the back of the church - just did a Wiki search for the word! It used to be the place for penitents etc etc .

But a porch is what I suffered from. A porch should be a clear passage.
uh oh!

JW
Posts: 812
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:46 am
Location: Kent

Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by JW » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:19 pm

Language is always changing, curates became assistant priests years ago, confession became Reconciliation, etc etc etc!
JW

PhloridaPhil
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:42 pm
Parish / Diocese: St Lawrence, Diocese of St Petersburg
Location: Tampa, Florida
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Re: The Best Narthex in Christendom

Post by PhloridaPhil » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:26 am

The best narthex I have found is that for St Timothy's Church in Lutz, Tampa Florida. It is almost as large a space as the church (in-the-round) itself. But on entering it the space is mostly clear save a few sumptuous sofas. It must work wonderfully as a ritual gathering space. On other occasions it stands as a psace you must cross before entering the church (straight ahead), the offices (to the right) or the restrooms (to the left). Going off on a slight tangent this is one of the few churches over here which does not make the altar almost invisible at Christmas, buried as most are by hundreds of poinsettia and a few Christmas trees. Even the narthex is free of Christmas decoration. But the outer doors are decorated with red ribbons and the flower beds are enrouged by poinsettia in their more natural setting!

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