White, Church Architecture


James F. White and Susan J. White, Church Architecture: Building and Renovating for Christian Worship. OSL Publications, 1998.

Referenced in: Summary

The chief contribution of this book is the authors’ roles as theologians rather than architects/artists. They exercise their specialty in providing an excellent reflective resource for congregations to conceive of new facilities or evaluate the use of their current facilities. Their purpose is to help readers theologically and imaginatively envision their facilities as places for the “work of the people.” Chapters discuss how a building is a place for the community of faith to engage the service of the word, Lord’s Supper, baptism, wedding ceremonies, funerals, and church music.

As a work of practical theology, it should be read more contemplatively than pragmatically. This does not diminish, however, the practical value of the book. It is full of concrete suggestions on topics such as seating arrangements, fan-shaped vs. straight/traditional pew placements, acoustics, electronic instruments, visuals and screens, people-flow from narthex to sanctuary, multi-use areas, energy consumption, handicapped access, etc.

It is written from a Protestant/Reformed and liturgical perspective, but the essential content translates well into other traditions.

Editorial Reviews

“The greatest gift an architect can bring is the ability to listen to the people of the church, to interpret their vision, and then bring it to reality in a structure which is pleasing to God and humanity. This book sharpens those listening skills and belongs on every architect’s bookshelf.” - James D. Evans, Architect

“This should be required reading for anyone with responsibilities for building or renovating a Christian church. Whatever else you read, read this. A wealth of practical help is here, much of which would be difficult or impossible to find anywhere else. - Hoyt L. Hickman

About the Author

The late James F. White was professor of liturgical theology at the University of Notre Dame and Drew University. He was a prolific scholar and author, and a highly regarded teacher.

Susan F. White is Harold L. and Alberta H. Lunger Professor of Spiritual Resources and Disciplines at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas.

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