The Upper Room: “Before” Pictures

Read my previous post about our plan to create a kid-friendly “upper room” at Tiny Church. A reader requested “before” pictures—here they are with a bit of commentary:

Here’s the view from the very back of the balcony, near the door. I love the archway and think one could do something creative with paint, to hearken it to the Upper Room commemorative site in Jerusalem. Or just something fun and warm.


Here’s the view from the railing of the balcony. There are about eight rows of pews, so as you can see, the balcony sticks out into the worship space quite well. This means the folks in the upper room are still a part of things, but it also makes foot noise a problem. Thankfully, the building is solid as a rock, and it’s carpeted, so there’s no major creaking happening when people walk around. I was jumping up and down, trying to make noise, and it was minimal.

The fact that the balcony protrudes so much means we can do fun things up there, like on Pentecost when I had the kids drop red, yellow and orange balloons on the people below as a “tongues of fire” throwback.


The balcony has become home to all kinds of random things, including this fantastically retro couch. Unfortunately it’s gone totally flat. Any cushiony feel comes from the sheer amount of dust residing in it. We are thinking Craig’s List. That’s rolled-up carpet behind the couch. The globe is awesome, but perhaps needs to live somewhere other than our church.


Nobody I’ve talked to knows where the rocking recliner came from, but it’s got a lot of life left in it. I could see a little reading nook in the corner of the upper room. I could also see that being a bone of contention.

Figuring out what to do with the books is a major puzzle. I firmly believe that in the Internet age, most church libraries are going the way of the dodo. However, there is some decent stuff up there—check out the Interpretations series lining that top shelf, and owl-eyed readers can also spot an old set of Calvin’s Institutes.


A long view of the balcony. These are the white shelves you just saw.

Our current plan for the church library (such as it is) is to give it a second life by allowing people to take the books they want. They are the church’s books, so it makes sense that members of the church should be able to have them. Books that aren’t claimed will be boxed up and given to… whom? I bet my readers have some ideas!


More stuff to be dealt with.




Views from either side of the front railing. One of our challenges will be to figure out what to do with all these chairs. Also, notice the two large raised parts of the floor. Those need to go—they are a tripping hazard, but I think that means new carpet. Interestingly, there’s some more of this carpet rolled up behind that filing cabinet on the back wall of the last picture. !!

But as you can see, the space has two windows! How wonderful!


So there’s your guided tour. I’ll be posting updates about our progress as we go.

I’m also considering applying for a worship renewal grant from Calvin College to do some kind of programmatic work, perhaps about children in worship, to go along with these physical changes to our building.

12 thoughts on “The Upper Room: “Before” Pictures

  1. marciglass

    I love the idea of a reading corner/area up there–for both kids and adults. So maybe hang on to some of the books. My kids always brought books with them to worship. It kept them quiet when they were younger and gave them something to do when worship wasn’t catching their attention. I used to feel bad that they weren’t “focusing” on worship if they were reading, but in conversation after church, I’d discover they paid attention pretty well. It would have been cool for them to have a space where they could lay out with cushions or comfy chairs and read and still be a part of worship.

    I would also consider putting some prayer centers up in the balcony. Our prayer center is in the front of the church, but the balcony would be a great place. We have a water color table and a children’s book of Psalms on that table, inviting kids to paint in response to the psalms.

    We also have a clay table, icon table, prayer graffiti wall, etc. The tables change every so often.

  2. An Unfinished Symphony

    Wow. What a lovely space! As far as the books go, I imagine a place like St. John’s College (in Annapolis) would possibly be a good place because they actually READ them as part of their coursework. My #1 daughter is actually going to be tackling that part of the curriculum this year. So if no one wants them… let me know!

    As far as overall use, it’s hard to know where Tiny Church would come to see as the “best” use (good luck with that) but it has so much potential. Doncha wish you had one of those HGTV shows who would take it on as a project???

  3. Sarah

    All in favor of the Calvin worship renewal grant writing. Betty Grit is so helpful – know several folks who have successfully applied/executed their grants. Totally appropriate for your setting/space/projected vision!!! go for it!!!

  4. susan

    excellent idea (the grant). The space is so much bigger than I imagined. Re: the leftover books. There are groups out there that will send the books to seminary libraries in developing countries. I don’t know who, just now, as our source dried up, but I imagine someone else would know.

  5. Monica

    Thanks for the pictures! It is also bigger than I had imagined from your earlier description. The raised areas are a bit of a puzzle. I wonder how they came about? I’m thinking that the end table under the antique globe might also be worth something.

    Love the prayer grafitti wall idea, too.

  6. ceemac

    The library @Union in Richmond used to send theo. books overseas. Don’t know if they still do it.

  7. marciglass

    If you want to make a prayer graffiti wall, just print out a bunch of words that might end up in prayers on paper. Spray the back side of the paper with Krylon’s “Easy-Tack” (which I found at Michaels). It turned the paper into post-it note paper, so people can put up the words (like refrigerator magnets) and then they can be taken down to make new prayers.

  8. Teri

    MA, that space is HUMONGOUS!!! Holy cow. you are one lucky pastor…I dream of a space like that. I can’t wait to see what you do up there.
    If you want to send the globe somewhere, I totally want it. 🙂
    I love the prayer graffiti wall. Elmer’s has a spray adhesive that works the same way as EasyTack but is easier to find, at least around here. We love that stuff. I would also make use of that chalkboard paint that turns regular walls into chalkboards.
    I’m intrigued by the little platforms…what is that about? So people can see better? For a display of something? in order to put the pastor on a literal pedestal? 😉
    I love the idea of a reading nook, or even a riff on “circle time” in preschools, with the comfy chair, a nice round carpet, some books…you could use the space for storytelling outside of worship time, or quiet reading/nursing/etc during worship. I love love love it.

  9. Katherine

    Virginia Theological Seminary – not too far from you in Alexandria – regularly does book drives to send theological books to partner seminaries in a couple of African countries. If you can get the books to them, they’ll take care of the rest.
    Magnet paint might also be a nice way to do your prayer wall – it’s how we display most of the kids artwork in the hallway to their room.
    I kinda like the platforms, defining different areas …

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