Thousands of churches close every year. What will happen to their buildings?

Source: RNS

(RNS) — When he was named a district superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene, the Rev. Albert Hung found himself facing the same problem many denominational leaders face.  

Too many churches. 

Not enough people. 

Of the 90 or so congregations in the Northern California district Hung leads, few have more than 100 people, with most drawing around 40 people to worship services in buildings designed to seat far more. Their longterm, viable future is questionable — as those congregations are aging, shrinking and often disconnected from their neighbors. A number of churches in the district have already decided to close, leaving empty pews in shuttered buildings.

But an empty church building is not just an asset to be liquidated, said Hung, who insists these are still sacred spaces that God can use even if the churches that once worshipped in them no longer exist. That belief led Hung to look for creative ways to use empty church buildings. 

In Santa Cruz, the Nazarenes have teamed up with a nondenominational congregation to turn a shuttered church building into a community center that will house a number of nonprofits.

For years, the building was home to First Church of the Nazarene in Santa Cruz, a small congregation that shut down after its longtime pastor retired. The church also rented space to Faith Community Church of Santa Cruz, a nondenominational church that runs several community ministries.

The decision to close down First Church of the Nazarene was worrying to Andy Lewis, pastor of Faith Community. The church had struggled to find a place to worship before renting space from the Nazarenes — and Lewis feared the church would have to leave the space.

In this new arrangement, Faith Community — which is nondenominational — gets to stay as one of several community partners sharing the space. The idea is to use the space for the benefit not just of the church but the entire neighborhood, he said. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Faith Community has used the space to run a food ministry and to host mobile medical clinics and a vaccination site in the parking lot.


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2 replies

    for well being
    Government Regd. charity NO. S/82972

    Dear sir,
    May you always be shine like the sun,moon and stars……
    we would like to bring into light that our area is poverty area.The children living here are passing their lives below poverty level. we provide free education, free books, vocational training ,free medical help and shelter to poor children under UNESCO education for sustainable development with the knowledge.skills,values through our organisation as they come from very poor family and they have no shadow on their lives,
    sir, we are getting too much difficulties to run our operation due to our poor financial condition.
    we request you with two folded hands to kindly provide some financial help to our organisation on humanitarian ground to run our operation in full swing at earliest possible for which these poor children would be very much grateful to you from the core of heart and pray to Allah for your good health and long life.
    Impatiently awaiting your kind reply
    Thank you very much sir,
    God bless you and your family and your country people

    with regards,

    Kalim Ahmad


    copy forwarded to ……
    Ms.Audrey Azoulay
    Director General. UNESCO
    7,place de fontenoy
    Paris 750007

    project proposal UNESCO education for sustainable development for poor children
    year 2022

    name of organisation….. UNESCO ORGANISATION
    for well being

    Government Regd. NO. S/82972
    Status….. social well fare for poor chidren
    country….. India
    contact person ….Kalim Ahmad
    position….. Director
    geogrophical condition….. most thickly poverty area
    Beneficary….. poor children
    Realtion with beneficary….. relation of humanity
    Total beneficary….. 450 poor children
    amount requested …. 16250 USD more or less for purchasing books,copies,stationary.benches
    black board.vocational training equipments, medicine and provision of clean
    safe drinking water and set up for vegetable garden.

    Bank details….. State bank of India……net banking
    A/C . 10436387828
    Bank code IFSC SBIN 000 1404

    Thank you so much sir,

    your kind address received from UNESCO office paris

  2. Well, some churches turn into mosques, but unfortunately the Muslim congregations, while growing, are not growing as fast as the Christian ones shrink.

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