Thursday, 5 February 2009

Churches at Risk - I've been thinking ...

Last night's C@R meeting has helped focus my thoughts about our attachments to church buildings.

We all have our different kinds of attachment to these places - religious, emotional, aesthetic, historical etc.  In ourselves we have some or more of these bonds to a church building.

Two broad headings occur to me. I'd like to call them Romantic and Depressive. 

A Romantic attachment to a church building could include our personal history there. I was baptised in that church. My parents were married there. A significant funeral took place in it.... and so on. 

A Romantic attachment would also include the non-religious but aesthetic or historic attachments. We might think that a church is beautiful or that it represents much of importance to a community's history, the city's development or to the history of architecture and design.

A Depressive attachment is when the hair-shirt is brought out of the wardrobe... when the church becomes the place that we sink ourselves and our energy into. A cause that we empty our faith and our best ideals into. It will take all we have, sometimes more. Our reasons can be noble and even faithful.  

Both the Romantic and the Depressive can make us hold on for dear life and refuse to let go of the place that is so important to us.

What if there is another kind of attachment to a church,  a Creatively-Pragmatic attachment?  Yes we love it.  Yes we admire its history and its beauty.  Yes we value the story of the people before us who put it there, worshipped and met there and handed it on. Yet we accept that their story is not our story and their times were not our times. 

We are pragmatic in that we are willing to let go, to make changes, to form alliances.... and we are creative in that we don't merely act expediently but seek ways that lead to life and that are of benefit to the people, the communities and the landscape around the church.

I really don't know where this leads... but share it as the beginning of an idea.

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