Oude Kerk, or old church, in Amsterdam, hosts the 2013 World Press Photo contest, among other arts events. The 800-year-old building is still home to a congregation. Some rights reserved by Joop Reuvecamp.
When we imagine what a church can become, there is one thing that can be a great liability or a considerable asset: the church building itself. It can be difficult to know what to do with the stained glass and soaring ceilings, especially when a congregation needs a new mission and ministry.
I began to understand some of the complexities when I ate lunch with a real estate agent who specializes in selling historic properties in Austin, Texas. She had a passion for â€śkeeping Austin weird,â€ť which is shorthand for keeping the corporate franchises at bay while allowing the local arts and sense of history. When our conversation moved to contemplating the future of the church, I began to talk about buildings.