Dear Abby: Readers sound off on church-seating etiquette

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DEAR ABBY: May I comment on your response to “Got Here First in Pennsylvania” (Jan. 7), who asked whether someone sitting at the end of a church pew should move if someone comes and says it’s his or her “favorite seat”?

There are many reasons people remain sitting at the end of a pew: an allergy to perfumes can be overwhelming if you’re sitting in the middle of a row; claustrophobia; weak bladder; physical limitations; the need for more leg room; and the need to use the armrest to stand up and sit down.

The early bird DOES get the worm and shouldn’t be expected to give it to latecomers. Likewise, possession is nine-tenths of the law. If people have a favorite seat, they should arrive early to ensure they’ll get it. That’s what we do. And when someone wants to sit in the same pew, we smile, step aside and let the person in while retaining our end seats. — OVERLAND PARK, KAN., ATTENDEE

DEAR ATTENDEE: Thank you for making your strongly stated case. When I told “Got Here” to be an angel and shove over, readers were quick to offer me “chapter and verse”:

DEAR ABBY: I’m 6 feet 2 inches, weigh 350 pounds and have size 15 feet. I am not the guy you would want to have to crawl over, or have crawl over you in church.

When sitting at the end of the pew, I can easily step into the aisle to let people in and out. I also take a medication that causes me to use the restroom often and on short notice. Again, I can easily move about without worrying about trampling some little old lady.

I arrive early and take my end seat not to be rude, but to make things as convenient as possible for others. — DOUG B. IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR ABBY: As a pastor, I believe good behavior should come first and foremost from church members who respect others and don’t insist on their own way.

Nobody “owns” a seat in the sanctuary. As creatures of habit, we tend to sit where we usually sit. If someone else happens to be there, we simply find somewhere else.

If “Got Here” was just starting to visit that church, I’d suggest he/she find a more charitable and hospitable congregation and leave those territorial folks behind. — JEANNE IN AUSTIN

DEAR ABBY: How can you say that one person, in the house of God, is more right than another in this situation? Is the shovee not committing the sin of coveting that seat? — MISSOULA, MONT., READER

DEAR ABBY: If you are first to arrive at an empty pew, take a place in the middle. Thus, later arrivals won’t have to climb over you. It’s common courtesy! — PAT IN BLOOMFIELD, MO.

DEAR ABBY: Having worked in a fire department for many years, I always sit at the end of the pew. That way I won’t have to knock over any fellow parishioners when my pager goes off! — LOUIE IN SOMERSET, OHIO

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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