Sunday, 11 April 2021

Church buildings are a waste; they should be reutilised

George, like Parys, has a ton of churches representing every denomination - and some of them in duplicate or triplicate.

It puzzles me.

The waste of resources is incredible. Lawns, gardens, halls, the church building itself, other rooms, kitchens and everything else that goes along with these structures. 

For the most part, christian churches are used on Sunday mornings, maybe Sunday evenings. Maybe Saturdays for weddings and funerals. Maybe small groups of people on weekday evenings for youth groups, bible study or prayer meetings. Churches are used by the church themselves for a few hours a week.

The rest of the time these buildings are empty - bar administrative people and cleaners. 

To me, this is abominable!

DISCLAIMER: I'm sure there are churches that have stuff going on, but from my personal observations - and I drive around a lot in the day - I see no cars and no people and no activity from the 7-10 odd churches that I most frequently pass. In Parys, there were a few churches that rented out their halls in the afternoons for activities like karate, dance and gymnastics - it may be happening here too.

Even though many of these buildings are ugly as sin (from the outside), they are a weather-proof resource that is sorely under-utilised and that, I feel, could really service the residents that surround them.

Halls are easy to purpose because they're a blank canvas. The church interior with its rows of pews would need a clever design rethink (get rid of the fixed pews) to be able to easily transform the space into a useable (and more friendly) one.

Partnered with a garden, halls make good day-time child-care facilities for working mothers. They can transform into craft, skill, language-learning, and extra-lesson centres in the day. Space is always needed to special needs or those with learning difficulties to receive attention and education. Night classes can be hosted there at night as well as providing space for games, hobby, social, interest, cultural and other small gatherings. Think dance, yoga, music and theatre too. Various church rooms could serve as socially-distanced working spaces with wifi. Working from home necessitates an extra room or adapting communal space for a home office - churches have rooms that are unused during the day. 

And, I don't see why different faiths can't share buildings. If the muslims take Fridays, those of Jewish faith can book Saturdays, and the various Christian faiths can take slots on Sundays at 8am, 11am, 2pm and 5pm. Just remove the Jesus-on-the-cross to keep the space deity-neutral.

Groups that use these spaces can contribute to the care of the building and use of resources (water, electricity). Rates need not be capitalist. Some groups (AA, special needs) could be hosted free-of-charge. And with more people using the building, the church has a greater community that may participate in fundraising events and church-run initiatives that benefit their group and wider community, regardless of their religion, because they are active in this space.

As well as creating an activity hub in the community that surrounds the church, maximising the use of a building is green. One building used efficiently and maximally is more green than the resources squandered on five under-utilised church buildings. 

What goes for churches also applies to significantly under-utilised school properties. Shift schooling would maximise the use of the classrooms throughout the day. As for those fields that stand open a majority of the time - arrrrrggghhh! Such a shame! Nearby schools should share facilities - maximising use while sharing upkeep expenses. That gates are closed for months of the year (not just weeks) for the school holidays - a sadness indeed.

I don't see things changing any time soon but as churches feel the financial pinch more, then perhaps they'll look beyond their own bubble.

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