The increasing prevalence of events within leisure and business activities (Dowson & Lamond, 2017), is reflected in the models of engagement by church organisations with their congregations and visitors. This increasing need for venues for events has brought about a new concept of ‘venuefication’ (Dowson & Lamond, 2017), which means that it is possible for any building, space or site to become a venue for an event. The growth of the experience economy in which consumers are moving from amassing possessions to acquiring experiences (Wood, 2009) influences a trend towards the Eventization of faith (Dowson 2018). For churches and other sacred spaces, theological perspectives impact on the extended uses of consecrated buildings.
This article analyses and contributes to continuing theological discussions on the use of churches for purposes other than worship services, in particular, as venues for events. It provides a critical evaluation of the secondary use of churches for event activities within the realm of religious tourism, considering in particular their differing theological perspectives. The paper suggests solutions to the issues that can arise from the use of churches and their associated buildings for events.
Following the agreement of Guidelines by the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Roman Catholic Church in November 2018 (Pontifical Council for Culture, 2018b) on the use of decommissioned churches, this topic is of relevance to churches of all denominations, with potential application to sacred buildings of other religions. The practical and policy considerations for transforming a church into an event venue are discussed, proposing a sustainable model for use by local church organisations.
This study provides examples of churches used as event venues from Italy, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden and England, across Catholic and Protestant denominations (including Anglican and Lutheran), as well as non-denominational churches.
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Dowson, Ruth (Rev.)
"An Exploration of the Theological Tensions in the Use of Churches for Events,"
International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage:
3, Article 6.
Available at: https://arrow.tudublin.ie/ijrtp/vol9/iss3/6