Pew Rentals

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Zenas, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. Zenas

    Zenas
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    In a discussion with a friend yesterday the subject of pew rentals came up. She maintains this practice was used in some Baptist churches in early America. I disagreed, insisting that this practice was confined mostly to Anglicans and Presbyterians. Can anyone shed any light on this topic?
     
  2. Internet Theologian

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    All I know is if you sit in a Baptists pew they get ticked off.
     
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  3. Revmitchell

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  4. Squire Robertsson

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    It was practiced among Baptists at least into the 1880s. Hamilton Square Baptist of San Francisco's founding charter explicitly forbids the charging of pew rents as "the preaching of the Gospel should be without charge."
     
  5. Zenas

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    Well. I hate to admit it but I guess I was wrong. Thank you, Rev and Squire.
     
  6. rsr

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    Fascinating bit of forgotten history.

    This is from the First Church, Providence:
    "Until the early 1930s the pews on the main floor were rented or owned by families or individuals. The pew rents paid the salaries of the pastor, organist and sexton and the general expenses of the building. The "high rent district" was in the middle, front section. Those who were unable to buy or rent a pew could sit free in the balcony. No one owns a pew today."
    http://www.firstbaptistchurchinamer...ds/2010/05/Self-guided-Tour-with-Pictures.pdf

    Here's a mention from a 1906 American Baptist Publication Society document:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=5...nepage&q=american baptist pew rentals&f=false

    From the history of The Baptist Church of Beaufort, S.C., whose building was constructed in 1844:
    "Church members and townspeople paid $12 to $30 to rent pew boxes; the least expensive rows were the first one and the last three."

    Here's a photo of what appear to be minutes of a church meeting in which a woman complained about the cost of a pew and its location, as well as that she had to pay for the entire pew when she only occupied one seat.
    https://hsp.org/sites/default/files/images/HCIPSAR/blogs/sbcvanhorn.jpg
     

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