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Church buildings: For almost 400 years, they have served as sanctuaries and public markers of place, anchoring town squares across America and fostering the nation's spiritual development. Perhaps because so many of our churches - especially in the Northeast - are historic, we admire them and hold them close. They not only help us feel connected to God, but also remind us of our spiritual ancestors. We rightfully see our churches as beautiful, and significant, and important.
But they also may be old - and too big for a congregation's current needs. Because so many New England churches were constructed long ago, in a different era - when worshiping congregations were larger and infrastructure wasn't so expensive to maintain - we may find ourselves wondering whether/how they can serve contemporary spiritual needs. We may ask: How can we successfully maintain our buildings, when financial resources are dwindling? How can we be good infrastructure stewards, when it's difficult to tell what roles our buildings may play in the shifting landscape of 21st-century ministry and religion?
Andover Newton Theological School
Peck Conference Room
230 Herrick Road
Newton Centre, Massachusetts
For a map of this location, CLICK HERE.
Andover Newton Theological School maintains a list of area accomodations. You can find this list, along with options for reaching ANTS by public transportation, by CLICKING HERE to access the school's "Visiting Andover Newton Theological School" webpage.
Friday, May 5
9:30 AM: Registration Opens
10 AM - 5:30 PM
Session One: WHY - Describe our local situations and discuss why our buildings and infrastructure matter in relation to mission.
Session Two: HOW - Explore best practices for positioning and transforming our buildings.
Saturday, May 6
9 AM - 12 PM
Session Three: Putting the WHY and HOW Together - Mini-consultations about developing action plans and moving forward.
As shown in the schedule, the workshop will consist of three sessions, each of which will last approximately 3 hours.
Participants will explore the following questions:
The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper (see Facilitator Bio, below) will lead a series of large-group conversations and peer-to-peer discussions. She also will provide participants with mini-consultations regarding their unique contexts and situations. Collectively, workshop activities will emphasize both the why and the how of securing the past and opening the future for our church buildings, which Donna considers "treasures in earthen vessels."
Through this workshop, participants will:
The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, an author, and a researcher who specializes in helping faith communities determine how to use their church buildings for maximize ministry effectiveness. Donna has taught "Bricks and Mortals" courses at Union Seminary in New York and Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She also is writing a manual about the topic, with the sponsorship of the Louisville Institute's Pastoral Study Project. Her congregation, Judson Memorial in New York City, removed its pews in 1959. It currently houses five worshipping congregations, along with the New York City New Sanctuary Movement, Bail Out Theater, the Gym at Judson, Movement Research, the West Village Chorale, and more. The church hosts an average of 7 activities per day, and approximately 1800 people come through the building each week.
Churches may find it useful to send multiple representatives - including the congregation's pastor(s) and lay leader(s) - to this workshop, which is especially useful for self-governing congregations who value the principles of democratic faith.
The workshop will be limited to 30 participants.
Limited scholarship assistance is available for this event. For more information, contact Alyssa Lodewick (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Important Note: When you register, the system will ask how many tickets you would like to buy. Place the numeral "1" in the "Primary Registration" box. If you are registering additional people from your faith community, indicate how many additional tickets you would like to purchase under "Additional Tickets."
The BTS Center is a think tank that sponsors educational events, projects, and research inquiries in the fields of religion, spirituality, practical theology, and ministry. Through thought leadership and vocational development initiatives, The BTS Center equips and supports faith leaders for theologically grounded, effective leadership in 21st-century communities of faith and practice.
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