What to do with church buildings throughout the world no longer thriving as houses of worship? Oliver Farry, a non-believer, muses about this at the New Statesman:
The “meaning” of a church has changed for many of us who don’t believe, but that doesn’t mean churches cannot be welcoming places – there is nothing I love more than to go into an unknown church and sit for a few minutes in the calm. There is an architectonic ambience imparted by churches, even the less spectacular ones, that few other buildings give off. There are churches in some unlikely places that I hold close to my heart, such as Sigurd Lewerentz’s red-brick Markuskyrkan, suffused with Nordic warmth, in a Stockholm suburb or Jože Plečnik’s concrete Church of the Holy Spirit in Vienna. As well as being architecturally fascinating, they feel faultlessly right. For this reason I am not a big fan of churches being converted for more practical uses when abandoned by the religious.
Farry notes that in France, where he lives, the government has taken charge of many historic church buildings in order to preserve them. Read his full essay here.