A few weeks ago, my family and I attended the Romanian Festival at a local Orthodox Church.
I didn't know much about this parish on the other side of town (OK, I didn't know anything about it, except that I have seen their priest at several inter-parish functions I've attended).
This event was a fundraiser for work on their building, which is showing serious signs of age - so we were happy to go and eat a great meal, support their endeavor, and learn a little something about this parish. We sat in on a brief presentation by their priest about Orthodox Christianity, with a sort of Q & A time afterwards...it was a helpful sort of discussion for neighbors and others who didn't know much about the church or the faith.
One thing I noticed, though, was this interesting seating phenomenon. The church didn't have pews - which, of course, was not surprising, but they had these very interesting stalls. Each stall had arm rests and a flip down seat which could be used by the occupant during the sermon or whenever they felt the need to take a load off - or just lean on the arm rests. More interesting yet was that each stall had a plaque with someone's name on it - designating that stall as belonging to a particular individual.
(Any Lutheran readers will note here that they have no corner on the market of pew ownership! It rather brings the whole "Excuse-me-but-that's-where-I-normally-sit" thing to a whole new level!)
This is an old church and so I had to wonder about how many of those named on the little plaques are even around anymore - and what happens to those spots during services now??)
In any case, the sponsors of this festival had a gorgeous day for their event. The folks from St. Stefan's were welcoming and helpful, their priest was kind and warm, the food was wonderful, and the event was very well attended (it was packed while we were there!). We noted in the newspaper shortly afterward that they didn't raise anywhere near the amount of money they need for the necessary work on their building, which was too bad, I thought. But in my opinion it was still a great success - they opened their building to curious neighbors who might never have otherwise seen it, answered questions from those who wanted to learn a little more about Orthodox Christianity, and generally provided a wonderful and positive Orthodox presence for all who attended.
Our family has put a Sunday morning visit to this parish on the short list of things to do soon.