Friday, October 11, 2013

Buying Abandoned Church Buildings

Every day on my way to work, I drive past a church building that's for sale.  In many ways, it's an ideal location:  in Dania Beach, on Highway 1, between Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood, just a few miles from the airport.  It's an ideal location for a church, or for a church building that's reborn as something else.

Some might look at the building and think about opening a restaurant.  Or maybe that's just what I think of because the first transformation of a church building that I'd ever seen was in downtown Charleston, SC, an Episcopal church that had been changed into a Mexican restaurant.

Some might think of the preschool possibilities.  After all, many a church has already transformed itself to adapt to the preschool it feels it needs to run/host.

I return to my thoughts of a few weeks ago.  I think of artist studios and an exhibition space.  I imagine running day or half day retreats.  I envision a space that explores the intersections of spirituality and creativity.  And we could do all sorts of creative work.  There's room for gardens and fountains.  I imagine there would be at least one kitchen.

I have a colleague who suggests that I stop one day and pray.  She says that God has already consecrated that space, and that when I assume that my dreams are not feasible, I'm selling God short.

She is right, of course.  And yet, I still can't quite articulate that dream, on a day-to-day level.  I can't quite visualize how we'd pay the bills.

And while I love the idea of the church as arts space, I'm not sure that I want to be the one to transform it.  I want it to exist, but I'm not sure that I want to be the one that does that administrative work to keep it running.

I do love the Dania Beach area.  I know it's been trying to recreate itself as an arts district.  Once it was a thriving antiques district, so past experience would tell us that the location is viable.

I also wonder about a social justice piece.  Could a church-turned-arts-center be helpful in terms of after-school activities?  There are pockets of deep poverty that surround that building--how could the arts center church help that situation?

My husband dreams of an empire of rental houses that could be made into safe, snug, affordable places for people to live.  I dream of old churches made into artistic spaces.  Of what does God dream?

1 comment:

Wendy said...

My spouse dreams of buying a church building to make into a home. We have one nearby we keep an eye on. It's not for sale, but we think it might some day, and if it ever is put on the market, we will probably make an offer (if it can be residentially zoned or whatever would need to happen). (I'm not sure what that says about our faith in organized religion that we expect this cute little church to some day be on the market, but there it.)

Your dream seems more altruistic.