new church chairs
NEW CHAIRS – BRIEFING SHEET
You should all by now be well aware that we are going to be replacing our upholstered chairs. The purpose of this leaflet is to answer some common questions surrounding this issue that I know many of you have. This is a massive purchase only made possible by a recent legacy and so it is only right that the congregations are consulted over the matter.
There are 3 options on trial (A, B and C) and you are asked to comment on which you prefer in the Comments Book that will be left out on the window sill nearest the chairs. You can also email your comment to the office for collation with the others. The PCC meeting in mid-January will make a decision that is informed by your comments. The trial period will end on Thursday 10th January.
Why do we need to replace our chairs?
Our chairs are not that old (bought in circa 2000) and in the main are in reasonable condition so this is a good question. The current chairs were perfect for the vision that existed when they were purchased. At that time the church was only occasionally re-ordered and the level of catering wasn’t as busy as it is now. The church is now significantly busier, there is almost daily re-ordering of the chairs and ‘messy’ activities are frequent. Some activities (like The Ark) need a large amount of space and as the chairs do not stack, they occupy a large floor area when pushed to the side which limits useable floor space. Using the chairs frequently when catering is unhygienic as the material is not easy to clean. An increasing number of chairs are being broken due to the excessive moving around for which they were not designed. The linking system (with a protruding stud) is fiddly to use and has on occasion caused injury. All these factors combined mean that they are no longer fit-for-purpose and new ones are needed.
Can’t the current ones just be repaired and re-upholstered?
Yes they can but that would be a temporary fix and wouldn’t address some of the more significant drawbacks.
Why are all of the trial chairs steel framed?
We cannot change the church or its fabric without the approval of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). As a Grade 1 listed building we need to be mindful to ensure that any fixtures are in keeping with the building’s heritage (moveable fixtures that can be moved away from view simply are less controlled). The DAC is also keen to ensure churches don’t waste money buying fittings that won’t last long. The DAC’s guidance is that they will not approve chairs that do not come with a very long warranty. They recommend these steel framed chairs as these come with a lifetime guarantee and in the unlikely event of a mishap are easy to repair. The steel framed chairs have a proven track record of being able to withstand decades of stacking and unstacking and general abuse.
Who else is using these modern chairs?
Westminster Abbey has recently bough style C. Christchurch Cathedral has steel-framed chairs as do many other significant Grade 1 listed cathedrals and churches. We’ll be in excellent company.
I liked the wooden framed chair (called the Theo). What is wrong with that one? Why isn’t it an option?
As stated above wooden framed chairs do not last as long, carry only a 10-year warranty, are more expensive, are very expensive to repair (if indeed that is feasible) and do not stack as efficiently as steel framed ones.
Why are all the trial ones not upholstered?
The DAC’s guidance is that they will not approve upholstered chairs as they do not last long and churches waste a lot of money having to replace them every 15-20 years.
Do the new chairs stack?
Yes – very efficiently. We will buy 7 ‘dolleys’ and each one carries 45 chairs. This will mean that all 300 chairs could if needed be stacked and occupy the floor space that 7 chairs occupy. This would for example allow us to use the church as a wet-weather option on Remembrance Sunday with standing room for several hundred in the nave.
Can the new chairs have book holders?
They can but these cost an additional £15 each and are not fixed. It would mean collecting each one in before stacking the chairs. We believe that the 11am congregation should grow accustomed to leaving books on a neighbouring unoccupied chair. With 300 set out and a congregation of some 80-100 there should be plenty of space available. We could also always consider buying the holders at a later stage.
What will happen to the old ones?
Several churches have been successful in disposing of the exact same chairs as ours to other churches and indeed a local church in Peterborough Diocese has already expressed an interest in giving them all a new home. With so many churches ridding themselves of upholstered chairs that don’t stack I’m afraid they have no second hand value.
What will happen to the name plaques on the old ones?
We believe that removing them will damage them beyond further use. We are intending to have replica plaques made for the previous donors and also for those wishing to donate a new chair(s). As the chairs stack they won’t be solid (thick) plaques but attractive labels that look like plaques.
Can I donate a new chair(s)?
Yes please! Details of how to donate will follow in the new year. We are really hoping that people who haven’t already given a chair might consider buying a chair for one if not more members of their family at £100 each. I hope we might recover at least a third of the purchase cost in this way.
I donated to buy one of the current ones; are you expecting me to give again?
Not if you don’t want to. Your chair has served BPC well and your past gift has made a huge difference.
I donated one of the current ones shouldn’t I have a say in what we do with them?
When I make a gift it is that: a gift for the recipient to do with what they will. So I feel it is up to the church to decide what to do with them.
I donated to buy one of the current ones, can I please have it?
Yes – that would be fine.
I’d prefer a darker wood stain. Can we have this?
It is possible to have the oak stained darker but this adds significantly to the cost and the stain fades. For this reason the PCC doesn’t want stained chairs.
I attend concerts at BPC, can I bring a cushion with me?
Yes. That is a great idea. If people can be expected to sit through a royal wedding or coronation in Westminster Abbey then I think we should be able to survive a couple of hours of a concert but a cushion is a great idea.
When will the new ones arrive?
We hope in time for Easter.
This is a huge amount to spend on chairs! Surely we should be spending our money on other things?
Spending on ‘boring’ fabric issues is always hard to fund-raise for so we’d rather spend legacy on this and fund-raise for new missional activities. Chairs are vital and these new ones will last many decades so spending now will mean that nothing further need spending until our children take over BPC.
Why can’t we have a mix so if I want I can still sit on a comfy one?
The whole point of getting new ones is to enable swift and efficient re-ordering. Having a mix of chairs will make this impossible. It would also look odd.
Will any of the new chairs have arms?
No. Arms add considerably to the expense and arm chairs do not stack as easily. Having different types of chairs also complicates the layout and re-ordering.
Will the steel damage the marble?
Yes so we are having to buy extra felt ‘feet’ fitted so that the wood and marble are protected.
How many will you buy?
We are working on 300 but can always order more later. We currently have about 250 chairs plus a quantity of the black steel-framed chairs. If money was no object I’d like to buy 400.
Will outside users contribute?
I am hoping that the University will but realistically only a few thousand might be expected.
How much will it all cost?
Depending on which chair is chosen it could all cost £56,000 inc VAT and delivery.
I have further questions, who can I speak to?
Please contact Tim Jones who is the Chair of our Fabric Committee. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He is part of the 11am congregation so catch him there. Failing that the Office can put you in touch.
Thank you for reading this.
With much love,