Monday, November 03, 2008


The government has been commenting on alternative community use of church (mainly Anglican) buildings declared redundant. The issue is complex and often over-simplified. I have made a brief comment on behalf of Ekklesia. The Telegraph's report said that "Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, has suggested churches with low attendance could be turned into gyms, restaurants and multi-faith centres." This fascinating construction equates churches primarily with buildings (rather than people, prayer and purpose) and reduces the issue to attendance. But the question of use and sustainability is larger than congregational size, as is the question of what kind of buildings and what kind of arrangements for space are needed in post-Christendom. The real conversation has only just begun. And its current assumptions are ill-fitting to the reality.


Yewtree said...

Why is this suddenly an issue now, when this has been happening for decades? I know of ex-churches that are restaurants, housing, a Hindu mandir, shops, a nightclub, and so on. I do think the new use should show some respect towards the building's former use, and (as I think currently happens) it should continue to be a church if possible - for example there may be other denominations actually seeking a building.

I like the idea of shared use with the community though.

Simon Barrow said...

Basically because a politician has had an idea which he assumes that no-one else has had it, when they have. And a journalist thinks this is a story because his readers don't know he doesn't know what's been going on. This is known as "par for the course" in modern journalism. And politics. It makes me feel old ;)

Thanks for your various comments, Yvonne. Sorry I've been tardy in reciprocating, but I vm appreciate your work. :)

Simon Barrow said...

PS. More prosaically, it's an issue because the government wants (a) to avoid spending money, and (b) achieve more community use and benefit which it can take credit before by saying it told someone to do it... without spending money.