Throughout history it is known that having a reserved pew in church was not all that uncommon. So much so that in ancient times, people would pay to rent their seat to ensure that they had a place to sit every week. While the practice of renting a bench to sit on is no longer practiced, in some congregations it is almost an unspoken rule that everyone tends to sit in the same place week after week. And when this pattern is disrupted, it is almost as though you feel lost without your regular seat.
Ironically, with this unspoken rule, it is easier to notice if a member of the congregation is absent, or has stopped attending all together. There inherently is a noticeable void in the congregation, especially noticeable for members of the clergy. While in most congregations the majority of worshipers in attendance take up residence towards the back of the chapel, there are usually a few devoted worshipers who claim seats closer to the front.
Having unofficial assigned seating allows for members to feel as though they belong, that there is a place reserved just for them. While there is nothing saying that if you are late, someone else can’t take your place, it still leaves you with a feeling of being one with the fold. As a new member of a congregation, it is sometimes a bit intimidating trying to find a pew to sit on, for fear of taking someone’s “assigned” seat.
Whether you sit in the same seat week after week, or you dare to sit somewhere different, there is something about sitting among other worshipers on a church pew that provides you with a feeling as though you are where you belong, as though you have found your own place among the church pews.