As I reflected on this pastor’s statement, a couple of thoughts came to my mind. One is that his statement was a very personal one that indicated a preference that was important to him and was a value I needed to honor. An additional thought though was about what actually makes a chair a ”church chair”. Here is an expansion on those thoughts with three observations as to what really is needed for a chair to be labeled a ”church chair”.
Folding chairs really are one of the most practical inventions of past centuries. Wherever you need a space-saving solution whether in the garden or in the home, some great looking folding chairs can help. Of course, it is not only in the home where you will find such chairs; public halls and conference rooms will have hundreds of chairs neatly folded away for important functions.
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A church chair is secondly a chair that is in compliance with any and all legal requirements that are in force in the particular jurisdiction where your church is located. We find that many churches are unaware that when a room reaches a specific number of people occupying it (you will have to contact your local officials to determine this limit for your area) rules can go into effect for your seating. For example, in some areas your chairs may be required to be ”affixed” the floor. In other areas, the ability to effectively connect your chairs to each other may be non-negotiable. The fire-retardant requirements for the fabric and foam that make up a part your chairs may be stricter in some localities than others. The simple truth is that your chairs should be in compliance with those codes in force in your location. Please know again that this truth is not related to the appearance of your church chair. Instead it has everything to do with honoring authority.
Spate also told the reporters he was doing the city a favor, since charging for the chairs would keep the undesirables (read – the poor) out of the parks, thereby keeping the parks sparkling clean and free of loiterers who leave a mess in their wake. The outrage from the New York City press and from philanthropists came swift. Randolph Guggenheimer, the president of the Municipal Council, said he ”saw no good reason for allowing private parties to occupy park grounds and make money through a scheme like this.” The New York City Central Federated Union sent a statement to the press denouncing both Spate and Clausen for their ”hideous actions.” The New York Tribune wrote in an editorial, ”This is only another instance of the hopeless stupidity of the present Park Commission.” The New York Journal also wrote an editorial defending the ”rights of poor people to sit in public park.” However, the New York Times saw no problem in what Spate was doing, as long as ”the prices were regulated properly.”