Note: Links corrected
The Rev. Lisa Fischbeck responds to The Lead item on re-purposing the church with a report on how one church re-invented and re-purposed itself:
In the 1980s, a slew of materials emerged on how to be a welcoming church. They featured hospitality tables, good signage, greeters standing outside the doors, and more. At the same time, as child care needs became more acute in our society, churches started looking for ways to open up Sunday School buildings for preschools and nurseries during the week. Beyond the church building itself, churches often have valuable downtown land and other building space.
All Saints Church, Kings Heath, Birmingham UK, tore down the old rectory to create a town centre with elder care, medical care, a café and more. They took down the old stone walls that surrounded the churchyard and lay old gravestones flat to create a public square with a labyrinth, mosaics with images from every day life, quotations not of the church but compatible with it, and a simple fountain for kids to play in. They put the church office in the middle of the public offices, and the public youth program in the church building. This all required committee work with townspeople to determine what was needed and what would be used. It also required letting go of some tightly held images of what church looks like. Sorry they don’t have a website, but I’ve posted photos on a blogpost