Comments about ‘Wright Words: Why do we sit on the back pew when there are plenty of open seats at the front?’

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Published: Friday, May 30 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Murray, UT

Interesting thoughts.

I used to sit in the back when the kids were small and distracting. Others are on call and may need to leave. We should be careful not to judge them to be withdrawing their support.

On the comedy side are those with impaired hearing who sit in the back and complain they can't hear. But smile, don't judge. It makes you feel better.

Atlanta, GA

I understand the well-meaning subject of this piece, but I can't help but wonder how this writer thinks that where you sit in the congregation has anything to do with your personal commitment to God (or any other deity in any other faith for that matter). He speaks of doing this to "demonstrate" or give a message. What's that about? It's time we stop with these types of unproductive thoughts within the LDS church culture.

The "small and simple things" here are not where you sit but instead these: show up, remember Christ, and in remembering him love your neighbor. Nothing more or less. We as LDS have enough "traditions of our fathers" that keep us from Christ that we need to get over - please let's not add a new one to the pile.

Beaverton, OR

I have no desire to criticize the author, or even his article. It was well written and he comes off as sincere.
However, I sometimes wonder if this "back row" issue is a non-issue. It's like the tradition that was spoken of as if it is were doctrine. I've heard speakers basically call people to repentance because of their back-row sitting ways. Obviously, if you sit in the back row, you are a sinner needing repentance! The front-row sitters also need the atonement, as do the people sitting facing the opposite direction.

Sitting in the front row is not akin to partaking of the Lord's sacrament. One shouldn't feel they aren't living the gospel of Jesus Christ simply because they sit in the back. Neither should a leader feel that the "more faithful" sheep show evidence of their faithfulness simply because they sit in the front row. When everything burns away, it simply is not as important as being there and being there in the attitude of repentance and reverence - which you can do as easily in the middle, the side, the infamous back as you can in the front.

Logan, UT

Because we are all habitually late and it's embarrassing to walk up to the front row after the meeting has already started. You know it's true. ;)

Logan, UT

In seriousness, though, I would chalk it up to a cultural norm that doesn't make a hill of beans worth of difference.

truth in all its forms
henderson, NV

I don't think God cares where we sit in his church. He is more happy that we are there on Sunday! no need to make this more complicated than it is. We go to church to worship god not to show how righteous we are by where we are sitting. Remember its all about his righteous not our own!

Glendora, CA

Interestingly, if an apostle speaks, forget about even finding a seat within 100 feet of the podium. And that's if their not reserved.

Calgary, 00

Hmmm....very interesting. My husband and I made the conscientious decision to move to the VERY front row when our children were little. {2 toddlers and one baby.} We figured there would be less noise and distractions for them there. We struggled with the usual problems that come with small children, but determined we would stay there. It worked. They sat up and faced front and listened to the speaker. They {all 6} are grown up now. No matter where we go and visit.....they all head to that very front row. It worked for us! Thank you for this article. It brought back many memories. Glad we made that decision for us way back then. It wasn't always easy, but so glad we did it.

West Jordan, UT

I am a people watcher so I get to the chapel early, sit near the back and watch the families come in. I also find myself watching them throughout the meeting. I like to see how many names I can remember, adults and children. Just something I do.

Murray, UT

When my youngest was 5 we moved and my spouse, a lifelong front row person, decided it was time we made the switch.

Our bishop laughed a lot during meetings at the antics of our youngest. I really think we should have stayed in the back a little longer. The front row did not make him behave better.

Plano, TX

As long as you get a chance at taking the sacrament, what difference does it make ? Too much attention to making appearances to suite the expectations and judgements of others. Just do the right things.

Joan Watson

Good Grief! Many people such as my husband and I sit in the "old folks, lame a little" back pew. We tried sitting up front so my husband could hear better - but the noise and antics, of families with young children, the constant taking crying babies out the full length of the chapel was just too distracting. One is glad it works for parents, but it seldom does for the elderly.

Westcoast Canadian
Victoria, 00

It makes sense for my family to sit in the back so we don't disrupt everyone by leaving mid-talk-testimony-baby blessing-musical number- etc. Back pew shaming needs to stop, heard it my whole life. Stop comparing possible spirituality to where one sits, what their dress/attire is like, facial hair, etc.. I understand the point of article, but the author giving a second thought and blog to the un-Christlike unwarranted comment by someone who was surprised by where he was sitting is a waste of time and space. The very idea that the author would think his friend said it without judgement shows how non-judgemental the author is, but for seating to be a blip on anyone's radar is worrisome. A good friend would say "Good to see you and your family here." and leave it at that. If there was lots of room perhaps a better comment and blog would be directed to why the pews weren't at capacity instead of who's on the back pew.

andrews afb, MD

It is funny how defensive and offended some people are getting from this article. It is probably because some people just don't want to change their ways.

It is like : "I like the back row and I am going to keep sitting there!"

What is your purpose in going to Sacrament meeting? Is it to people watch from the back row?

I can tell you one thing that the closer I am to the front the easier it is to focus.

Isn't that what we kind of going to church to do?

I am all for change. I am all for sitting all over the place. I don't think I need to have a "assigned" seat. Obviously some people responding negatively to this authors article don't feel the same.

Huntington Beach, CA

I sit on the back row, because I need to get up during the meeting, because of the pain sitting to long. To some people they might sit in back because they just don't care, but at least they made it to church. Now if he talked about people playing games on devices during church meetings that would be something to be concerned about maybe. I see this all the time by youth and adults, but to each their own. Let the Lord judge what others do and I'll worry about where I sit and what I'm doing during my Sunday meetings. We all have are reasons for sitting where we do and what we do.

Alberta, CA

Brilliant! I have asked the same question for years. If it was a concert or play we would pay extra for front row. And as one comment stated, if an Apostle is coming we send a friend early to reserve a seat as close to the front as possible.

True, God does not care where we sit. And true it is respectful that mothers with young children or the elderly find door seats more comfortable. The only other argument I buy is that the very front 2 pews can be obstructed by the pulpit of make it a neck strain to view the speaker and obstructs the view of the sacrament table or chorister. But I remember one Brother who always sat third row and center because it helped him attend better to the talks.

I suggest;

Forward pews first to leave rear pews available for mothers and elderly.
Move to the center to help the Deacons pass and to open up seats as needed.
Reserve pews at doors for ushers, latecomers, and even Elders so they can be visible to visitors.

Not a matter of right and wrong, more a question of etiquette.

Saratoga Springs, UT

The statement of your friend about being a "back row kinda guy" is what makes people feel less than welcome. Why can't we just be glad to see a friend or loved one at church instead of passing judgement on where they sit? Maybe that type of judgmental atmosphere is why people don't want to sit near the front in the first place. Perhaps fixing that and making people feel less judged by their fellow congregants is what congregations should be focusing on.

Dr. Coach
Bountiful, UT

My mother suffers from Parkinson's disease and we've staked out the last row in the chapel--the one all by itself, set off from the rest of the pews with a wide aisle. Our seats are the ones on the far right side. Everyone in the ward knows NOT to take those. Members even leave their scriptures there to save the space when we're having a difficult time getting there.

One Sunday we turn into the chapel and I see a man sitting in our place. And I'm thinking, "Who is this guy anyway? Doesn't he know he's sitting in our pew?"

We step into the chapel from the foyer and realize that its President Eyring. Lucky for us, he gets up, shakes our hands, and then makes his way to the stand. And we get to sit next to his lovely wife.

If the back row is good enough for sister Eyring, its good enough for anyone.

Dr. Coach
Bountiful, UT

Back row people are the meek who will inherit the earth. There is no pretense on the back row. No striving for position. No power.

We're simple folk who know the value of discretion. Do you really want that many ward members looking at the back of your head?

Back rowers are humble. They're polite. Clean shaven. White shirt wearers. And they pick up the cheerios from the previous ward.

Sitting on the back row allows perspective. We know who the back rubbers are. The head lowerers. And the small-bladdered ones who frequent the "water closet".

Like any ecosystem, back rowers fill the niche between the moss phylum and the mushroom kingdom. Without the oxygenating back rowers the ward would be hurled into a global warming abyss, spewing CO2 emissions beyond EPA-allowed Sunday limits.

And then there's the leg room thing. Who wouldn't want to sit on the last row where you get a whole aisle's worth more than a Delta executive? The back row is nothing if not first class accommodation on a business class budget.

I say fly Mormon every Sunday!

Berryville, VA

@ Dr. Coach

I am sure the Eyrings sit all over not just the back row.

Namely they are / have been in the spotlight or the stand 1000%+ more than most members.

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