Lutheran Architecture in the USA

PDRPDR Shipmate
I am probably stretching a point here by putting this under Ecclesiantics, but I have been wondering whether the pattern with Lutheran buildings in the USA is more regional or synodical. But one thing I have noticed around here (VA) is that even the older buildings are usually quite plain.

St Oddballs meets in a Lutheran church dating from between the Great War and WW2 and it is extremely well proportioned, but in some respects really plain. It is LCMS, but its seven daughter churches all ended up ELCA. No figural carving, no crucifix, the arcade piers even lack bases and capitals, though there are well defined mouldings on the original doors, and a stone altar adorned with grapevine carving, and a prominent IHS in the centre. Panelling, but not much in the way of wood carving. There is some good stained glass, though, otherwise it would be VERY plain indeed. The older churches in the area (all but one ELCA) seem to be older versions of the same basic aesthetic. Not much spent on anything except stained glass, the altar, and the organ.

This is a bit of a contrast with the Midwest where Lutheran churches of the older sort seem to have at least some statuary (even if it is just a knock off of Thorvaldsen's 'Saviour'), a prominent crucifix, and various other bits that remind us that Lutheranism did not produce much in the way of iconoclasm. I thought it might be a German -v- Scandinavian thing, but nosing around various websites it seems to be more regional than anything else. It did cross my mind that a factor locally could be that a lot of the older Lutheran churches started out as Union Congregations with the building shared by German Reformed and Lutheran Congregation, but most of those 'union' broke up 170-190 years ago.

Anyone got any insights on this they would care (or dare) to share.
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Comments

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited June 22
    PDR wrote: »
    It did cross my mind that a factor locally could be that a lot of the older Lutheran churches started out as Union Congregations with the building shared by German Reformed and Lutheran Congregation, but most of those 'union' broke up 170-190 years ago.
    At least in the historically German/Lutheran places here (North Carolina), that does seem to be at least part of it. Around here, Lutheran church buildings tend to fall into one of two categories: old (and possibly once a union church with the Reformed) and contemporary. The older churches probably fall somewhere between a traditional Presbyterian aesthetic and a traditional Episcopal aesthetic in terms of style and simplicity. Those churches tend to be in the Catawba Valley and nearby areas, where there was heavy settlement of German Lutherans. In the rest of the state, where congregations are younger, many of the buildings date from the 60s or later, and there is a noticeable predominance of contemporary architecture. And fwiw, I can’t think of any Lutheran churches around here, old or new, that have crucifixes or statues. All will have a sanctuary lamp, though.

    I wonder if the difference you see with Midwestern Lutheran churches has to do with the Scandinavian heritage there, compared with the mainly German heritage on the East Coast.


  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    I am also wondering if 'which bit of Germany' might be a factor. I have seen some fairly elaborate German Churches in the Midwest, such as C. F. W. Walther's Trinity, St. Louis - built, I assume, mainly by Saxons. Here (mid Shenandoah Valley) the folks were from Württemberg, which is quite a bit closer to Switzerland, if you take my meaning. The Reformed element was smaller and came from Pfalz.
  • It's regional and also timebound (meaning, what was in style / available at the time the building was constructed)?

    My first congregation in Southern California was done in typical adobe mission style, which is more to do with the location than anything else. My second and third in St. Louis, MO were beautiful and very elaborate--Immanuel had a white painted altar with statues, gilding etc which reminded me of an elaborate wedding cake, and St. Peter's had the most gorgeous composition of carved woodwork and stained glass you ever saw. Both had crucifixes, though not the California church. This seems to be a local culture thing--everybody in St. Louis does crucifixes, and nobody (but the Catholics, I suppose) in SoCal did them where I grew up. A crucifix there would have been simply misunderstood.

    Our fourth in St. Louis is an anomaly--a very plain building made of cinderblock and painted white, with clear windows and minimal wood. I have no idea what got into the builders, as this is fairly unusual for a church of its era. I'm guessing poverty (did I say that in my out-loud voice?) or simple bad taste. Sorry, X! Not naming you here...

    There is also a quite badly done processional crucifix there, as well as a plain wall cross. Basically we mix and match on crosses and crucifixes--it's a style thing, not a doctrinal thing.

    If you want to look for things that are Lutheran distinctives, you'd do better to look at the furniture available and the arrangement of it. They almost all of them have pulpit on one side and lectern on the other, with a 50% chance of a capped baptismal font midway between the two (there has also been a trend to put that in the narthex so you pass it on your way into the nave). Older altars are against the east wall, but in a few cases people have pulled them forward and stand behind them (meh). There is generally a communion rail with kneeling cushion, and people go forward for communion down the center aisle, returning by the sides. There is NO room for choirs or musicians up front, as we normally stash them tidily in the choir loft in the back of the church, or occasionally in a transept, if we've got them. Our general idea is "choir members should be heard and not seen." Even "praise bands" as they call them get stashed away in a hidden location...

    There tend to be a number of seasonal or topical banners, most of them made by people within the church, though in a few ritzy places they may be commissioned from a fabric artist. These are heavy on symbolic images and light on words--considerably different from the Baptist churches I have visited.

    There is almost always a fairly large narthex in the back of the church, which serves as a place to greet people, let toddlers run, and allow teenagers to flirt (until the elders send them back inside to sit down). The ushers hang around there too as they wait for time to take the offering, traffic direct communion, and so forth.

    Lutherans can be seduced by the ecclesiastical style-of-the-moment, but apart from that, we tend to like color, glass, and pretty things. And we aim to be boring in our church names.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Even "praise bands" as they call them get stashed away in a hidden location.

    Never away enough or hidden enough. :confounded:
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited June 22
    @Lamb Chopped You are right on the money for most of the older churches around here which date from just after the WBTS through to about 1910. The church St Oddball's uses is later than most, and dates from the mid-1920s, but pretty much complies to type, though font is almost under the side gallery, rather than at the head of the main aisle.

    The trend in architecture thing is pretty clear. The oldest buildings around here are 'brick gothic' of the American variety - i.e. pointy windows but not convincingly mediaeval looking; those from 1900-39 tend to be modified Gothic revival; then it is various varieties of "modern" after 1950s, though the floor plans tend to stay traditional. At the moment there is a nasty rash of 'worship barns' going up in the new suburbs. However, they almost always have the altar, pulpit, etc in the usual places!

    @Amanda B Reckondwyth - they had their praise band up front Epistle side until they move the contemporary service into the parish hall. Personally I prefer praise bands to be in a sound proof bunker about three miles from the church, but it was not my circus/monkeys!

  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    PDR wrote: »
    I am probably stretching a point here by putting this under Ecclesiantics ...

    Not at all ... :kissing_smiling_eyes:
  • PDRPDR Shipmate

    Lutherans can be seduced by the ecclesiastical style-of-the-moment, but apart from that, we tend to like color, glass, and pretty things. And we aim to be boring in our church names.

    The Lutheran Church we share with are building a new church and school that I can only describe as a 'Praise Barn' - which I suppose is the architectural style-of-the-moment when you don't have a lot of cash with which to play. First lime I looked at it I expected to see "GENERAL STEEL" welded onto the steel rolled joists.

    Regular trips out to the hospital have enabled me to watch it grow, and it hasn't been getting any prettier as it has progressed. I noticed that in the plans of the new church, the sanctuary (U.S. use) is nearly square with the band (front left), choir (front right), organ (rear right), and mixing desk (rear left) each having their designated corners. It is about half as big again as their present church 240 seats as opposed to 160.
  • Gag me with a purple spoon.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    The 'praise barn' style church (good description!) tends to be reserved for charismatic churches here, so surprised Lutherans are getting in on the action in the US. Do they used converted cinemas and theatres too? I have to say that the big advantage of the 'praise barn' type is that it's easy to make accessible from the start. This is perhaps less of a problem in the US with far fewer very old buildings, but it is a problem for many churches here. Although architecturally they're not the nicest, the accessibility potential is a big advantage.
  • BabyWombatBabyWombat Shipmate
    The two Lutheran churches in reasonable driving distance from my home both look more or less like any other New England church from the outside. I’ve not been in either of them, but have seen some photos available on their websites.

    The ELCA congregation’s building is a frame structure from the 1800’s, painted white, on the small side. It is simple and quaint inside from the photos I’ve seen. Over the simple white altar is a painting of Jesus in Gethsemane. From the outside it could pass as almost any denomination. During a recent search for a new Pastor a TEC priest friend celebrated there.

    The Missouri Synod congregation (in a different town) is in a recently constructed building of red brick, built as an extension of their primary school. (They had worshiped in a different location and as the school grew in numbers they built the addition and moved from the old building). It is traditional in design and also could pass for any denomination, with a series of tall rather narrow windows with rounded tops. They offer no photos of the interior. But I did note that on Trinity Sunday they used the Athanasian Creed, splitting it into 3 sections spread out over the service!

    A third Lutheran church, also ELCA, closed and their building, a 1960's style brick church, was acquired by a non-denominational church, looking more or less from the outside as an RCC building of that era.
  • Why is it weird to use the Athanasian Creed on Trinity? Or is it the splitting you find odd?

    Anyway--

    IMHO we actually do have a huge problem with church building accessibility, particularly in areas where flooding happens, or where it is customary to build over a full-sized basement (which pops up several feet above ground at the top, thus requiring stairs). My theory is that not so long ago, the kinds of injuries etc. that tend to put people in wheelchairs long term were also the kind of injuries that tended to kill them quickly, mainly from pneumonia--and so there was less concern about accessibility for these people.

    If this is correct, antibiotics and better management of things like hip fractures have led more or less directly to a change in church architecture (through various accessibility laws).
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    edited June 24
    Well also people who were disabled were much more likely to be institutionalised, and presumably institutions tended to have their own on-site chapels. Obviously many people became (and become) wheelchair users due to injuries or illnesses, but many wheelchair users are born disabled. Of course, accessibility is not just about wheelchair access in any case (though many churches don't even manage that, particularly when it comes to toilets).

    Over here churches (and indeed homes) don't tend to have basements, or if they do they're used for storage only - the church basement meal is not a thing here, in stark contrast to US Lutherans! We also tend to have fewer new church buildings. Adding to existing buildings is far more common.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited June 24
    I sometimes wonder, looking at the design of the church we meet in, if, when they came to build the school in the 1950s, they all suddenly realised that they were a Lutheran Church without a basement hall. The 1920s building was built more or less at grade level with small hall paralleling the road beyond the chancel. By contrast, the 1950s extension has an enormous basement with fairly high ceilings and a full kitchen. It's probably seen a fair few potlucks!
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    FWIW, the ELCA has a document entitled Principles for Worship, published 2002 (as part of the lead up to the publication of Evangelical Lutheran Worship). The document addresses language, music, preaching and worship space; the section on worship space begins on page 67.

    And another FWIW, basement “fellowship halls”—the usual term in these parts among everyone except Episcopalians (who have “parish halls”) and Catholics (who seem to usually have “parish halls” or “church halls”)—are very common in churches of many denominations built between the late 1800s and the mid-2000s in these parts. I grew up in an area close enough to the coast that full basements are usually not possible, yet the Baptist church in town had a basement hall under the sanctuary. They got around the problem by having 20 or so steps leading up to the sanctuary entrance.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Why don't American churches have separate church halls as is the norm in the UK?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Some do. In my experience, though, they’re usually not a separate building; they’re part of a building that includes offices, Sunday school rooms, etc., which often is attached to the church proper.

    But for a period of time, and for many churches, I think it was more cost effective, and in some cases a better use of land, to make the building compact, with the hall under the sanctuary. Sometimes, there are rooms or alcoves opening off the hall that could be used for Sunday school or other small groups.

    Often these days, btw, the fellowship hall with office space and classrooms is the first building built. The hall can be used as a multiple-purpose space, including for worship, until the funds are available to build the church proper.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Nick Tamen, I assume that by "sanctuary" you mean the entire area where church services are held, not just the raised area (usually at the east end) for the altar.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Yes, I do, and I probably should have been clear on that. I think @PDR has referred a few times to American usage of the word. I can’t say whether it’s specifically American, but in my experience here, use of the word “sanctuary” to mean only the area around the altar is limited to Episcopalians, Catholics and, I suppose, the Orthodox. Among Presbyterians, Lutherans (at least in my experience), Methodists, Baptists, Moravians and others, the word “sanctuary” refers to the entire worship space.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited June 25
    Pomona wrote: »
    Why don't American churches have separate church halls as is the norm in the UK?

    Foul(er) weather and extreme temps. As for "why in the basement?" One word: tornadoes. Though being mostly underground makes temp control cheaper and easier as well.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Pomona wrote: »
    Why don't American churches have separate church halls as is the norm in the UK?

    Foul(er) weather and extreme temps. As for "why in the basement?" One word: tornadoes. Though being mostly underground makes temp control cheaper and easier as well.
    Tornadoes aren’t really that much of an issue here—certainly not like in the Midwest—but there are still lots of basement fellowship halls. But temperatures certainly could be a factor.

  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited June 25
    I do wish we still had location indicators, like on the old Ship...

    We used to always have summer services in the hall underground for precisely this reason.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited June 25
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Pomona wrote: »
    Why don't American churches have separate church halls as is the norm in the UK?

    Foul(er) weather and extreme temps. As for "why in the basement?" One word: tornadoes. Though being mostly underground makes temp control cheaper and easier as well.
    Tornadoes aren’t really that much of an issue here—certainly not like in the Midwest—but there are still lots of basement fellowship halls. But temperatures certainly could be a factor.

    Around here (Virginia) whether an older church has a basement seem to depend on whether the site allows for a "daylight end" to the basement, or whether the church up a sufficient slope that ground water will not be an issue. Certainly being semi-underground helps with the air-conditioning bills, but so does a craftily placed extractor fan, and a slack handful of windows that can be safe be left open at night.

    The building we use has both a small upstairs hall (usually called the Friendship Room, though I refer to it as the small hall, and am understood.) The whole church/sanctuary thing requires frequent translation as to whether you are talking to Anglicans, or Lutherans.
  • Yes, we had a massive extractor fan too, though living in murder central (slight exaggeration), we couldn't leave windows open. But living at the confluence of two huge rivers will drive you to do almost anything to deal with the muggy heat.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    I only risk the windows that Spiderman or a weasel could get through despite our low murder/crimes against the person rate. Thankfully I live in a small town where crime is mainly folks walking off with that which is not tied down. I have a big fan in the roof space which cools the upstairs nicely. The church could use similar so the A/C would not have to work so hard on summer Sundays! I noticed the other day that they provided both the switch and the breaker for one, but never installed it!
  • Heh. We had some drug addled fool break in and steal what WAS nailed down--namwly, the 1940s vintage wall speakers in the nave. If anything, they did us a favor as we didn't have to get someone in to remove them.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Churches in the UK do not typically have AC (even in new buildings), in addition to not usually having basements - and we don't usually have AC in our homes either, as we all bemoaned last summer. I'm not sure why basements are so unusual here, since they would maximise the space we tend to have much less of. Older townhouses divided into apartments do tend to have basement apartments, so perhaps it's something that died out once live-in servants became rare. Church halls here have historically been local community spaces and not just used by the church, so it makes sense to have a separate building. I guess I'm just surprised that American churches, which usually have more land and building space, don't have correspondingly more buildings to rent out to others in the community - I know many churches with small congregations here find this to be a helpful revenue stream.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited June 25
    A common pattern in the past was to build the basement; worship down there for a bit whilst raising some more money, and then finish the church. Also older churches (pre-1930) tended to be built with folks being able to walk to church in mind, so you were competing for city lots within walking/streetcar distance of your congregation, and that tended to keep church foot prints small. The older churches in this town - 1st Pres, 2nd Pres, UMC, TEC, LCMS, 1st Baptist, Catholic - all tend to occupy sites which are very obviously one to four city lots roughly 150' by 50'. About the largest plot any of them has is 200'by 150.'

    In the 1950s a lot of older churches acquired adjacent lots to provide parking, whilst in the post-war suburbs the move began towards the 'big church with a big parking lot' model. By the 1960s even smaller churches tended to go on one or two acre lots at the edge of town. These tend to be the single level campus type buildings with the church, Sunday School, and church hall all arranged along one side of the parking lot, or in a cloister. The current trend is towards 5 or 10 acre properties close to a major road junction housing a featureless praise barn surrounded by a parking prairie, thus helping to spread urban blight further out into the countryside.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited June 25
    Pomona wrote: »
    I guess I'm just surprised that American churches, which usually have more land and building space, don't have correspondingly more buildings to rent out to others in the community - I know many churches with small congregations here find this to be a helpful revenue stream.
    Renting out church halls is relatively unknown here, at least in my corner of the U.S. It happens occasionally, mainly for community events (for which rent often isn't charged), but it's not common. If a large hall for a party or reception is wanted, folks traditionally have been much more likely to rent the hall of a fraternal organization, like the Moose or Elks lodge, or the Shriners. Generally, use of church halls is pretty much all church-related. (Church-related, btw, can include preschools and after school programs, as well as Scout groups sponsored by the church.)

    Heh. We had some drug addled fool break in and steal what WAS nailed down--namwly, the 1940s vintage wall speakers in the nave. If anything, they did us a favor as we didn't have to get someone in to remove them.
    I don't suppose that helpful fool could be persuaded to come over here to remove our 50s-vintage wall speakers that, so far as I know, haven't functioned in 25+ years?


  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    edited June 25
    Pomona wrote: »
    Why don't American churches have separate church halls as is the norm in the UK?

    Our Episcopal parish church does technically have a separate parish hall, built decades after the church was, but it's very close, alongside the church building, and connected with doorways within, so the interior experience is like having one large building with an older bit and a newer bit. Where you can tell it's two buildings is if you go into an office or the main fellowship room in the newer building and look north through a window: you'll see the arches and windows of the side of the church about two feet away. And within the church, the stained-glass saints in the south windows need to be back-lighted to make up for the narrow space between them and the newer building. The choirmaster recently posted a photo of the view from his office: basically the church wall.

    Roman Catholic churches such as my mother's in the Detroit archdiocese tend to have a completely separate building that may have been the original church. In Detroit suburbs in the 1960s, several parishes were started with a flat-roofed building that looked like a school but served as the temporary church until the real one could be built on the other side of the massive car park. Clearly the temporary church was designed to be easily retrofitted as a church hall, with full kitchen, flexible classrooms, and a big social hall for luncheons and big meetings.
  • BabyWombatBabyWombat Shipmate
    PDR wrote: »
    A common pattern in the past was to build the basement; worship down there for a bit whilst raising some more money, and then finish the church.

    And then, there are those that did the reverse! My first parish built their second church bulding in 1868, designed by Richard Upjohn. It had no basement. In the 1890's they added on an equally fine three storey parish hall. Then in the 1950's they excavated under the building to create an larger undercroft with kitchen, hall, and restrooms.

    The parish I currently serve as supply priest built a Greek Revival style church in 1828, designed by Alexander Parris, an associate of Upjohn. Again, no basement. At a later date (my source isn't quite sure of the date) they excavated under the building to create a hall with kitchen, and restrooms.

    I've no idea what the deciding factors were, but wonder if it was a fit of New England cussedness: church first, and only later a decent loo with indoor plumbing!
  • With Lutheran churches, you also need to allow for the existence of a school, either alongside it, in the past, or in plans for the future. The school might be the first thing to be built, in fact. Any of the buildings might be designed/redesigned/double designed to serve the school. In our current odd building, the church hall is actually the old gym for the school. I have seen other churches where a new sanctuary (yes, American usage here!) has been built and the previous worship space repurposed as educational space. In my first congregation, we had a single large space that did for all--worship, eating, dancing, etc. We had chairs in that church, of course, or we never could have stacked them out of the way.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    The Lutherans with whom we share space (but not for much longer) are committed to expanding their school - hence their new building. For the last 20 years they have been operating K and Pre-K, but they want to get back into doing grades 1 through 3, and eventually 4 through 6 as well. I can see their logic even though the architecture makes me wince.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    With Lutheran churches, you also need to allow for the existence of a school, either alongside it, in the past, or in plans for the future.
    Is the existence of a school more prevalent in the LC-MS than the ELCA, or is it more prevalent depending on region? As I think through the maybe two dozen or so Lutheran churches near where I live, only one has a school other than a preschool, and that one is an LC-MS church that has a pre-K–8 school. There don't seem to be that many elsewhere in the state either—maybe a handful or two. Are we just unusual in that regard?

  • I don't know about intersynodical differences, but the LCMS school system, once our pride and joy, has been steadily shrinking, likely due to finances. It sucks.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Around here the amount of hassle one gets from the Commonwealth's Department of Education may have pushed some of the smaller schools into extinction. The problem is not so much the rules but the way some folks in the DOEd choose to implement them. Some administrators seem to have a less than welcoming attitude when it comes to private schools.

    The local LCMS parish abandoned its 1 thru 3 provision because the Commonwealth's requirements for the type of building and associated facilities changed. This, after an interval some years, was a major factor driving their decision to abandon their historic downtown sanctuary and go suburban.
  • Older Lutheran churches here (in Central Texas) tend to look very much like older Episcopal churches. Both tend to have a prominent pulpit to one side, and a smallish but central altar, usually adorned with a plain brass cross (not a crucifix). Stained glass is very common, but statues are fairly rare. They tend, in other words, to be more ornate than Methodist or Presbyterian churches but less decorated than Catholic churches.

    Both are usually in a somewhat modified gothic, either carpenter gothic (common in smaller towns) or in brick or stone. Catholic churches built by immigrants from northern Europe are often much the same, but those built by Mexicans or Tejanos are more likely to be in a modified Spanish Baroque.

    There is a massive and new LCMS church on a stretch of interstate where I live. I wouldn't say it looks like a barn. More like a sports stadium.

    In regards to parish halls in the US, they are almost the usual location for support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Those groups, together with church coffee hours and potlucks, are their main uses. It used to be that many or even most weddings had their receptions in the hall after the service, but tastes in wedding planning have become much more extravagant.

    Halls owned by Catholic churches with a marked immigrant character tend to be big community centers, especially for people from "the old country." The local Maronite church has a grandly-named "Phonecian ballroom."
  • One of the local ELCA churches near me is a wooden hexagon (windows on 3 of the sides and on the steeple) with the altar in the center under the steeple (the architect was apparently impressed by a nearby Frank Lloyd Wright house that is also hexagonal). No parish hall but has what it calls a 'fireside room' (no active fireplace anymore due to pollution concerns) in a separate building connected by a covered walkway. The fireside room is used for AA, local community meetings (the local neighborhood has a strong community spirit); the church proper has been used as a winter homeless shelter and as a polling station.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I like the sound of the fireside room, even no longer with a fire. It's very common here for church halls to be used as polling stations. For example, the hall at the continuing Presbyterian church near us is the station we normally attend; I think we're probably the only Labor voters there.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited June 28
    Gee D wrote: »
    I like the sound of the fireside room, even no longer with a fire. It's very common here for church halls to be used as polling stations.
    That’s very common here as well.

  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    My old church was a polling station until they figured out that the county offices were about four blocks to the west and moved it there. Here they use the Library, one of the Presbyterian Churches, a school, and a social club as the polling places.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I'm not sure how far 4 blocks may be, but at the recent federal election, we had a choice of 3 stations in a triangle, about 1 km between them.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    0.4 miles in that town. Both it, and the city I presently live in seemed a bit thin on polling places.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Older Lutheran churches here (in Central Texas) tend to look very much like older Episcopal churches. Both tend to have a prominent pulpit to one side, and a smallish but central altar, usually adorned with a plain brass cross (not a crucifix). Stained glass is very common, but statues are fairly rare. They tend, in other words, to be more ornate than Methodist or Presbyterian churches but less decorated than Catholic churches.

    <snip>

    The better Lutheran Churches around here are usually a step up from the local Episcopal Churches, which in turn are a half step up from the Presbyterians, but not necessarily the Methodists. It was well into the 20th century before Virginia shed many of the aesthetic consequences of Low Churchmanship, and not always then. The 1950s Episcopal Church here looks like a Library or a Senior Centre.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    PDR wrote: »
    0.4 miles in that town. Both it, and the city I presently live in seemed a bit thin on polling places.

    Thanks, perhaps getting around to making voting compulsory will bering in some more booths.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    PDR wrote: »
    0.4 miles in that town. Both it, and the city I presently live in seemed a bit thin on polling places.

    Thanks, perhaps getting around to making voting compulsory will bering in some more booths.
    I doubt voting will ever be made compulsory in the U.S.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited June 29
    I think you're right - we can't understand why it never was for you, and you can't understand how it could ever be.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    I doubt TPTB would want to make voting easier, there are enough problems with people in the US struggling to vote (usually black people, what a surprise) - voting is difficult in the US on purpose.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I notice that it's not compulsory in the UK either, and from what I've read, is difficult there also.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Pomona wrote: »
    I doubt TPTB would want to make voting easier, there are enough problems with people in the US struggling to vote (usually black people, what a surprise) - voting is difficult in the US on purpose.
    That depends on who TPTB are. I have, at various times, and experience with PTB who wanted (and did) make voting easier and PTB who wanted (and did) make it harder.

  • WulfiaWulfia Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Pomona wrote: »
    I guess I'm just surprised that American churches, which usually have more land and building space, don't have correspondingly more buildings to rent out to others in the community - I know many churches with small congregations here find this to be a helpful revenue stream.
    Renting out church halls is relatively unknown here, at least in my corner of the U.S. It happens occasionally, mainly for community events (for which rent often isn't charged), but it's not common.

    I have heard several reasons for US churches not wanting to rent out their property:

    1. Tax Law. Religious institutions are tax-exempt. Renting to for-profit or political organizations might threaten that tax status.

    2. Administration. Especially for small churches with an all-volunteer staff, scheduling, unlocking & locking, monitoring clean-up after events, etc. can be overwhelming.

    3. Public Accommodation and Access Law. If the church building is historical, or if the congregation is just poor, finding money and administrative resources for compliance can be difficult. Even if the church is genuinely seeking to be accessible for outreach reasons, it is a step up to take on the full legal mandate.
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