I was recently at a conference held in Knox College, Dunedin. This is where Presbyterian clergy are trained [Yes – aside to Kiwi Anglicans: Presbyterians and other denominations still have a clear process for training their clergy. Apparently, there is nothing intrinsically against clear training and formation in this age. Surprise!]

The image above is of the Knox chapel. The services we held here gave that experience of being “in the round”. God is beyond us. And between us.

I recently watched the amazing movie, Of Gods And Men. The monastic tradition (which the Knox chapel embodies) is obviously focused on God in transcendence. But the monks as they bow in reverence to the transcendent God nearly touch each other as they face each other. Christianity holds transcendence and immanence together. At one of the most moving points in the movie the monks move and join up, embracing each other in a semicircle facing the altar as they continue to sing and pray as a helicopter hovers outside and the reality of the threat to their lives sinks deeper.

Community and transcendence are not opposed to each other. They need to and can be held together. And they can be held together architecturally.

Christchurch is being given an opportunity to embody this vision. I fear we may miss the chance. The Anglican church has constantly been using the word “rebuild” which most people hear as “replicate”. The images on the draft Christchurch post-earthquake plan has a new city built around a replica of the 19th century Anglican cathedral. I wasn’t surprised when that was revealed.

New church buildings, IMO, should start not with the outside shape, but with the shape inside – and then work out what most interestingly/dramatically covers the church interior layout.

What do you think? Have you got examples of great interior layouts? Have you also got examples of good renewed interiors inside inherited exteriors?

source of above Cathedral Square plan

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