No Point in Saving the Seat

Commented about church closures here and here. Believe that churches, once established, should never be closed. Same with schools. Neil Remington Abramson has a very different take on church closures, as here (reproduced with permission):

Actually, Anglican churches are working all too hard to preserve historical premises. You must have heard that membership has declined to a half or third in this generation. But all the buildings for 3x as many are still being maintained. And that means there is very little money for Christ’s mission to the world. Every church is almost overwhelmed, just defending its physical presence. Yet there is no mention in the gospels of Christ building a church! The church was the congregation of believers, not a building.

Here in West Vancouver, we had 4 Anglican churches. St Monica’s in Horseshoe Bay just closed, after fighting to survive for more than 20 years, with <20 members. They suddenly failed because one guy was contributing $30,000 a year, their whole budget, and he stopped, moved, or died. St. Mark's in New Westminster, with 35 regularly attending members, was closed earlier in 2013.

St. Francis, St. Stephens and St. Christopher’s have between them about 600 members. You could get them all serviced by one church (originally there was only St Stephens in West Van), but instead of one strong church, there are three, each with annual deficits, each struggling to survive. And each would be glad if the others folded themselves into the one. And each determined not to fold itself into another, so as to preserve its own community identity.

My own belief is that if there are one third the members, there should be one third the churches, since Christ’s mission is the important part. Our former Bishop, Michael Ingham, wanted to close the dying churches to build new ones in the suburbs, where there were new congregants, far from churches. I supported his view, but he was stymied by the defenders of the dying churches.

And I would absolutely oppose public tax money going to preserving these buildings. Let free enterprise reign. If people don’t want to go to church, there’s no point saving them a seat. Let them make their own arrangements for meeting God.

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2 Responses to No Point in Saving the Seat

  1. Lorne has recently written about how churches in Europe are being turned into public museums, in addition to discussing difficulties with heritage designations. Where does the Spirit go?

    Education Museum II

  2. On December 27, 2014, Lorne commented as follows (reproduced with permission):

    I’m not sure I know about the Ukrainian model, nor do I think the larger religious community is preserving any churches, at least not in the long term. I suspect that your ex’s church is being maintained by a very few, and in the long-term will also require government support or abandonment.

    Christian churches of all types have a procedure to de-consecrate a church or other religious facility. Happens all the time. First one I experienced was Point St. Charles Baptist Church in Montreal. Thriving in the 1940s, closed by the 1970s. Couldn’t adapt to demographic change.

    When they outlive their usefulness, just knock ’em down.

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