The Episcopal Church Building Fund (ECBF) is finally doing something about the growing problem of how church building maintenance is colliding with pursuit of a church’s mission. They are gathering leaders to talk about how congregations can use their buildings in new ways.
The ECBF will gather on April 28th – 30th in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to discuss ways churches can transform their empty, expensive buildings into uses that complement or fund their true missions.
The ECBF website includes clips from the 2012 ECBF conference, at which Bishop Gregory Rickel and others spoke. It was in his address at this conference that Rickel used the phrase “Religious Industrial Complex” referring to the grand building campaigns of growing churches during the post WWII boom. This phrase seems harsh to those who lived through the optimism of that time, but to a younger generation now encumbered by the buildings their parents erected, it seems strangely apt.
Nevertheless, there is hope for churches and their buildings. When you go to the site, be sure to click under “info., links and tools” and check out the many alternative uses for church buildings they have documented. These are real examples from real churches in real cities you can check out. And these are only Episcopal churches! It is inspiring to see the creativity that is emerging as churches wrestle with the challenge of turning real estate from a burden into a blessing.