Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Regular readers know that I have some pet peeves regarding language at St. Paul’s. Like many parishioners, the renaming of the undercroft as the “parish hall,” a change of absolutely no utility whatever, is galling. Likewise, the constant repetition of our slogan about being welcoming is both annoying and embarrassing.

Happily, there is some progress on the language-at-St.-Paul’s front. Although Lou apparently cannot bring himself to say “undercroft” without additional qualification, the word “undercroft” is showing up with greater frequency. For example, in the news for the week of February 13, we find this sentence: “Pat McKeone will be selling tickets during the coffee hours this Sunday, February 6, in the Parish Hall/Undercroft” [emphasis added]. Lou frequently juxtaposes “parish hall” and “undercroft.” Doing so is irritating in its own way, but, to the degree that it recognizes that our congregation had a history before he arrived, it is mildly gratifying.

Since, at the beginning of the 10:30 service, I am usually lined up with the choir in the hallway, I generally don’t hear Lou’s welcome before the service begins. For a very long time, he had been greeting worshipers and identifying our parish as “the most welcoming congregation in the South Hills for all generations.” Someone had to point out to me that he is no longer doing that. Good for him! The announcement was like one of those irksome ads one has to endure on the Web before being allowed to watch a video you want to see.

Perhaps even the wording of our slogan could change to something more modest. I noticed this sentence in the February 11 “Exploring Our Worship” notice: “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church strives to be the most welcoming church in the South Hills for all generations” [emphasis added]. Whereas this is less compelling as a slogan, it has the advantage of being (at least arguably) true. (Incidentally, I thought the graphic for “Exploring Our Worship” was clever. I don’t know if it was done in-house or not, however.)

One other peeve is worth mentioning, namely, the capitalization of the names of rooms in the church building. (I was reminded of this practice at St. Paul’s while researching this post.) Why do we have a “Lounge” or “Parish Hall”? These terms are generic and do not deserve capitalization. On the other hand, something like “Chapel of the Good Shepherd” does deserve to be capitalized, as it is a specific, rather than a generic name. This practice is one of longstanding, and it’s time to put it to rest.

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