Christian churches in Australia have introduced a policy of property rationalisation to cope with reduced attendance and increasing costs. The result of this policy is substantial church closure. This has produced considerable disturbance within congregations and the wider communities as readjustments to what are well known, historic and distinct buildings becomes necessary. For church historians, such a dramatic shift in the physical appearance of the church signals a whole range of changes taking place within the churches. Church closure obviously acts as a pivotal point in the history of any individual church, but in the history of the wider Christian Church in Australia the impact is equally as substantial. This paper examines the issue of church closure from the perspective of the church historian who sees here an opportunity to discuss church history in a period of metamorphosis. Church closure lays bare a whole range of issues relating, for example, to authority in the church, the interface between secular and sacred worlds, attitudes to the elderly in the church,the significance of place and the place of material culture. This paper looks at church closure as a gateway into these issues. With this dramatic alteration in the presentation of the church to the world there are new opportunities for historians.
|Keywords:||Church History, Church Building, Church Closure|
Senior Lecturer, School of Classics, History and Religion, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia
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