(taken from “Old Churches Don’t Die…They Turn into Bars, Eateries” by William Underhill, Newsweek as appeared in Levitt Letter)
Across much of England, churchgoing is in long-term decline. More than 1,600 churches–about 10 percent of the country’s total–have been formally declared redundant by the Church of England. And the English have recogizned the new reality: if church buildings are to survive, new uses must be found. While a handful serve as mosques or Sikh temples, many more have found roles as cafe’s, concert halls, warehouses, or chic apartments. The pious may fret, but pragmatism will often prevail. . . .
For a generation that has rarely set foot in church, preserving the buildings matters more than saving faith. For would-be clowns, there’s a circus school in the former St. Paul’s Church in Bristol, England. Madonna has performed in the Paradiso, a church turned club in Amsterdam. Diners in Rome are happy to eat at the Sacro E Profano (Sacred and Profane), a restaurant housed in a medieval church, and restoration in Dublin saw the once-derelict St. Mary’s Church reborn as a high-end restaurant. “We do get some feedback from the customers, but it’s mostly positive,” says the manager of an Italian restaurant occupying a 19th-century Anglican church in western England. Few even question the buiding’s most striking feature: an outside pizza oven standing on the site once occupied by the altar. . . .
Of course, the drift to secularism is far from universal. Some of the 90 churches in central Dublin owe their survival to the massive influx of staunchly Catholic Polish migrants in recent years. And Russia has seen the construction of 11,000 new churches and chapels since the collapse of communism. “The farther you head east into the Orthodox world, the more you will find church buildings being repaired and new ones going up,” says the World Council of Churches. In Poland, the only risk to old Catholic churches omes from swelling congregations abandoning the historic buildings in favor of bigger new ones that can accommodate them.
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.