Wall Street Journal: “Europe’s empty churches go on sale”

Wall Street Journal: “Europe’s empty churches go on sale”

Naftali Bendavid of the Wall Street Journal has devoted a long article about the plight of religious heritage buildings in Europe. He has spoken to FRH council member Lilian Grootswagers as part of his research. Headlined “Hundreds of Churches Have Closed or Are Threatened by Plunging Membership, Posing Question: What to Do With Unused Buildings?” The article focuses on churches.

The former Roman Catholic Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, one of hundreds of decommissioned churches, was turned into a skate park. Merlijn Doomernik for the Wall Street Journal. 


(…) Hundreds of churches, closed or threatened by plunging membership, pose a question for communities, and even governments, across Western Europe: What to do with once-holy, now-empty buildings that increasingly mark the countryside from Britain to Denmark?

Bendavid discusses some of the (controversial) re-uses found for these buildings

Unused churches are now a big enough problem to attract the attention of governments as well. The Netherlands, along with religious and civic groups, has adopted a national “agenda” for preserving the buildings. The Dutch province of Friesland—where 250 of 720 existing churches have been closed or transformed—fields a “Delta team” to find solutions.

“Every church is a debate,” says Albert Reinstra, a church expert at Holland’s Cultural Heritage Agency. “When they are empty, what do we do with it?” Preservationists say there often isn’t the money needed to create new community-oriented uses for the buildings.

Read the full article online here or view it here: Europe’s Churches Go Up for Sale – Wall Street Journal (PDF).

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