As Protestants, and as Presbyterians, we teach and believe that the Church exists where the Word of God is preached, heard, and obeyed in faith and love; and where the Sacraments are rightly administered.
In the arrangement of our sanctuary, the focus is on three visible symbols or reminders of the Word and Sacrament – the pulpit containing the open Bible, the baptismal font, and the Lord’s Table with the visible reminders of the bread and the cup. We seek communion with God and He seeks communion with us is through the Word, prayer and the Sacraments. A setting designed for worship should group the congregation together before, and around some balanced arrangements of the pulpit, the Lord’s Table and the baptismal font. What we have created is a setting which suggests and points to the worship of God through Christ. Therefore, we call this a sanctuary.
The pulpit with the open Bible does not necessarily have to be in the center of an arrangement or design, but its importance should in some way be indicated, and we have done this by elevating the pulpit above the level of the table and the font. By elevating the pulpit, it suggests that the Word must illuminate the meaning of the font and the table, since they are visible signs of the Word in action, and they have no meaning apart from the Word. It is only as they are confirmed in the preaching of the Word and received in faith that they are of value. The Word sheds light upon everything and everybody in the sanctuary. Our authority in all matters of faith and practice is Christ speaking to us through His Word. By His Word, we know our need, and His provision for our need as suggested by the font and table.
The hand-carved dove on the font is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The font tells us that His spirit can cleanse and make new. Since baptism signifies our entrance into the community or household of faith, it is to be done in the worship of the congregation and not in private.
The table tells us that Christ died for our sins, and that our redemption centers around His atoning death. It forever puts the acts of God in Christ at the heart of the Christian experience and worship. The sacrifice of Christ is the heart of our faith; and since this is proclaimed and experienced in taking the bread and cup, we have an arrangement here where we can symbolically and literally assemble around the table to receive what He does. What could be more appropriate that having the table central, with the cross above or behind it speaking of His sacrifice for us?
Baptism is a visible sign of our entrance into God’s family by His regenerating spirit; and the Lord’s Supper is the continued renewal of all that God has done for us, is doing, and will yet do. The table and font together tell us that Jesus Christ has done what is necessary to redeem us, and that His cleansing spirit may work in our lives now.