AP: Congregations struggle in Aging, Decaying church Buildings

About halfway through Sunday service at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, as worshipers passed around the collection plate, a chorus of screams pierced the air.

Chunks of the ceiling in the 52-year-old church near Hickory came crashing down on the crowd of 200 or so, striking about 14, who were later treated and released from nearby hospitals. A jagged piece of the ceiling, roughly 10 feet by 10 feet, dangled from exposed wires over the back pews as deacons struggled to guide panicking worshipers from the building.

“My jaw just dropped,” the Rev. Antonio Logan said. “I thought, ‘This can’t be real.'”

Caring for old church facilities is an increasingly acute problem, particularly for mainline Protestant denominations. As membership declines and budgets shrink, the beautiful edifices of American Christianity can feel like weights dragging down churches that are forced to spend money on maintenance and repairs instead of ministry, charity and other Gospel-derived imperatives.

Read the whole article.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

3 comments on “AP: Congregations struggle in Aging, Decaying church Buildings

  1. Tegularius says:

    Odd that they say the problem is particularly one of “mainline Protestant denominations”, when the most significant cases they cite of buildings in troubling/unsustainable condition are the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and the Garr Memorial Church. (Falling numbers are cited for Metropolitan UMC Detroit, but there is no mention of actual maintenance issues; Prospect Congregational UCC had an old septic system fail, but sounds like they’re generally in the process of a building upgrade.)

  2. Chris says:

    if this is not symbolic, I don’t know what is.

  3. Cennydd says:

    The boiler, which is underneath the nave if my former parish church in ECR, is in dire need of replacement, and has been for over twenty years, but nothing has ever been done about replacing it; only ‘repairs as necessary.’ There is some risk of a catastrophic explosion hanging over everyone’s heads, and the vestry is going to have to do something about it before this happens. The problem is that they are $16,000 in the hole.