The conversation about renovations and the future shape of Grace Church is getting more exciting as we try to discern what our priorities are, what our ministry and mission might look like in the coming years, and what it means to be faithful stewards of the gifts we’ve been given (beautiful worship space and courtyard garden, as well as some prime real estate in downtown Madison). You can find out more about our master planning process here:
But as our conversations are taking place, there are larger conversations that we should tune into from time to time. Conversations about the use of space for example. In Columbus, OH, an Episcopal parish has reached agreement with Ohio State University not to build student housing on its land. You can read about it here. They’ll receive almost $13 million from OSU.
In New Jersey, a closed Episcopal Church has been designated a historic landmark by City Council of Jersey City, making the demolition (desired by the diocese) a more difficult process. It’s been closed since 1994 and while historic preservationists are eager to “protect” it with landmark status, they’ve apparently been less interested in buying it from the diocese.
And there’s a fine essay by Aaron Renn that explains “Why Cities feel glorious.”
Metropolitan areas today are mosaics. In an ever more complex and competitive global economy, every part of a region, city and suburb, needs to know its role on the team and bring its A-game. Just as there’s no need for every job to be located downtown, there’s no need for every major piece of sacred space in a region to be replicated in every suburb. Downtown does just nicely.
However, this is one reason that while economically the core may no longer dominate a region, a healthy center still plays a key role in overall regional vitality. That’s because it remains home to things like the major pieces of sacred space such as war memorials and cathedrals that bind a region together and give it civilizational permanence, meaning, and purpose beyond the mundane.