First United Presbyterian Church

The Gathering Place Cross

The Gathering Place is a new name and use for the narthex of the church. What’s a narthex? It’s an enclosed gathering space opposite the main altar of a church, and most people nowadays don’t actually know what the word means. In fact, the word has changed its primary meaning since it first came into use back in the 3rd and 4th century. It used to be a special space for people who weren’t able to come into the main area of the church but who still wanted to hear the service.

Over time, the narthex came to be used as a crying room for children, as a lobby for the church proper, or for a place to hang out and meet friends before church begins. The word doesn’t mean much in churches today. It can just feel like jargon designed to make newcomers to church feel like outsiders.

That’s exactly why we gave up saying “narthex” and took up saying “Gathering Place.”

A place to gather

The Gathering Place is a room where you can greet people and be greeted. It’s a quiet place to sit and think or a friendly place to hang around before and after the service and meet people. You can easily plan to meet friends there, or you can arrive with no plan, grab a cup of coffee and a snack, and see who you will meet.

The cross in the picture above is in the Gathering Place, welcoming members and guests in. It’s another way FUPC is lifting high the cross this Lenten season.

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