Pew

From Academic Kids

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Church_pews.jpg
Pews in rows in a church
A pew is a long bench used for seating of a church congregation.

Churches were not commonly furnished with permanent pews before the coming of the Protestant Reformation. The rise of the sermon as a central act of Christian worship, especially in Protestantism, made the pew an indispensable item of church furniture. Most Orthodox churches do not have pews; they have stands instead.

In some churches, pews were installed at the expense of the congregants, and were their personal property; there was no general public seating in the church itself. In these churches, pew deeds recorded title to the pews, and were used to convey them. Pews were originally purchased from the church by their owners under this system, and the purchase price of the pews went to the costs of building the church. When the pews were privately owned, their owners sometimes enclosed them in pew boxes, and the pews were frequently not of uniform construction throughout the church.

Pews are generally made of wood and arranged in rows facing the altar in a church. This area where the congregation sits is called the nave. Usually a pathway is left between pews in the center of the sanctuary to allow for a procession; some have benchlike cushioned seating or even footrests, although usually more traditional or conservative churches have uncushioned seating, and no footrests. Many pews have slots behind each pew; these usually hold bibles and hymnals as well as other church literature. Sometimes the church may also provide stations on certain rows that allow the hearing impaired to use headsets in order to hear the sermon.

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