Parishioners Line Up Two Hours Before Doors Open To Get Coveted Seats
These days, members of Grace Lutheran Church in Clearwater, Florida are arriving early and waiting in lines that wrap around the Sunday School wing on Sunday mornings. They love their pastor, but that is not why they are showing up two hours before the doors open. Instead, they are trying to increase their chance of getting a seat on the back two pews.
Mabel Stephens has been coming to this church since she was born, and explains the situation. “Well, it used to be that you could just find a spot on the back row like any normal church. But as more people have retired and moved to the area, it became harder and harder to get your seat. About a year ago I started getting to church about 15 minutes early. And that was fine. But now I have to arrive about two hours before Pastor Jim if I want to have a chance.”
In fact, Ms. Stephens said that when she arrived this Sunday, there was a tent pitched right by the church steps. Phil and Gloria Edwards only recently started attending, but quickly realized the situation. “We aren’t doing anything on Saturday nights anyway. So we brought our pup tent down last night around 9:00 and were sitting there with our coffee watching everyone else show up this morning with the funniest looks on their faces. Hey, if we can camp out overnight for Neil Diamond tickets and $5 waffle irons on Black Friday, we had better be able to show the same level of commitment for the back row at God’s house. This morning we scored the back row... center aisle end of the left side pew. God is good."
Pastor Jim Philips said that the church is looking into hiring security. "We have event barricades in place, but when the doors open, sometimes things get a bit sketchy. It looks like a fight to be the last animal on the ark. We are encouraging people to show up late, as long as they are willing to sit towards the front."