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On Church Buildings

Just had an alert for the Journal of Religious History March 2007 edition.  This article sounds interesting...


“This Special Shell”: The Church Building and the Embodiment of Memory

Religious, congregational, individual, and community memories are embodied in church buildings. Under normal circumstances these memories sit harmoniously together. Once the church building is destined for closure, however, the equilibrium of the memory platforms is disrupted, often causing conflict. The value of associating memory with a building is questioned, especially when such attachments are seen to impede the rationalisation of church assets. Through the process of closure and afterwards, the memory patterns and associations are reorganised, redrawn, and reprioritised. This article examines these memory shifts in the context of Australian religious history from the 1970s to the present day. Special attention is given to the Uniting Church in Australia.

 Will have a read and see what I should have done differently when we closed our building!


  • Sounds interesting. For some people place attachment (placing personal significance upon places, conferring identity upon them and receiving identity back from them) is an emotional or affective process - useful or not - and unfortunately not usually susceptible to reason or being altered by cognitive processes. One hot debate in my new setting is whether you can move the communion table during a service, especially if you're a youth worker.

    I think it was either Philip Sheldrake or Yu Fi Tuan who pointed out that sacred space is usually contested space because of the different meanings we assign to it. Hence the even greater disequilibrium when a community's attachment to a place or cluster of symbols is disrupted.

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