Sanctuary Design

In the preface of the Presbyterian Church's new Book of Common Worship (1993) we find this conviction: "The reform of worship is, above everything else, a concern for the renewal of the church... In worship, through Word and Sacrament, the church is sustained by the presence of Christ.  Joined in worship to the one who is the source of its life, the church is empowered to serve God in the world."

The focus of the sanctuary design, indeed the focus of the whole master plan of Immanuel Presbyterian Church's physical plant, is the chancel, where the people of God are gathered around the Word and Sacrament.


The uniqueness of the design is in its use of the floor to unify the Word and Sacrament.  Pulpit, font and table are held together within the most common symbol of the triune God, three intersecting circles, whose intersections consist of black granite, which is also inlaid in the font, table, and pulpit.  The font, table, and pulpit have their origin and continuity in God, each being a different facet of God's self-expression.  The slate flooring witnesses to the solidarity and permanence of God, emphasizing God's steadfast love and faithfulness.

The Lord's Table rises from the intersection of the three circles, itself assuming the arc of the circle closest to the congregation and curving toward them in an open-armed welcome.  It is cantilevered so that its only supporting pedestal is anchored centrally in the Trinity.

The baptismal font is of equal height, proportion, and style, and has been brought forward into the congregation, but is kept within the trinitarian symbol, rising from it as an offering of graceful acceptance by God.

The pulpit, equal in size, proportion, and style to the table and font, also rises from the Trinity.  Built into the chancel steps, the pulpit sits slightly higher than the table and font -- not as an act of domination, but as a way of seeing the Word in relation to the Sacraments.  The trinitarian symbolism achieved with the slate flooring continues up the chancel steps and into the pulpit, emphasizing that the Word -- Jesus Christ -- is the disclosure not of any god, but of the triune God.

In addition, the pulpit, table and font each consist of oak, identical to the wood used for the pews, emphasizing not only that God's Word and Sacrament -- like God's self -- are for God's people, but also that the leaders and people are united by God into an equal priesthood.

Other details include the early Christian symbol of the fish (the Greek word for fish being icthus -- the letters of which are the first letters of the Greek words, Jesus Christ God Son Savior) produced by the intersection of the circles as well as by the intersection of the circles with the circular pulpit, itself subtly forming the "tail" of the fish.