When Church Became Theatre: The Transformation of Evangelical Architecture and Worship in…

Paperback | May 30, 2005

byJeanne Halgren Kilde

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For nearly eighteen centuries, two fundamental spatial plans dominated Christian architecture: the basilica and the central plan. In the 1880s, however, profound socio-economic and technological changes in the United States contributed to the rejection of these traditions and the developmentof a radically new worship building, the auditorium church. When Church Became Theatre focuses on this radical shift in evangelical Protestant architecture and links it to changes in worship style and religious mission. The auditorium style, featuring a prominent stage from which rows of pews radiated up a sloping floor, was derived directly from the theatre, an unusual source for religious architecture but one with a similar goal-to gather large groups within range of a speaker's voice. Theatrical elements wereprominent; many featured proscenium arches, marquee lighting, theatre seats, and even opera boxes. Examining these churches and the discussions surrounding their development, Jeanne Halgren Kilde focuses on how these buildings helped congregations negotiate supernatural, social, and personal power. These worship spaces underscored performative and entertainment aspects of the service and in sodoing transformed relationships between clergy and audiences. In auditorium churches, the congregants' personal and social power derived as much from consumerism as from piety, and clerical power lay in dramatic expertise rather than connections to social institutions. By erecting these buildings,argues Kilde, middle class religious audiences demonstrated the move toward a consumer-oriented model of religious participation that gave them unprecedented influence over the worship experience and church mission.

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For nearly eighteen centuries, two fundamental spatial plans dominated Christian architecture: the basilica and the central plan. In the 1880s, however, profound socio-economic and technological changes in the United States contributed to the rejection of these traditions and the developmentof a radically new worship building, the audi...

Jeanne Halgren Kilde holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College, and Co-director of Macalester's Lilly Project for Work, Ethics, and Vocation.

other books by Jeanne Halgren Kilde

Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 5.98 × 9.21 × 0.79 inPublished:May 30, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195179722

ISBN - 13:9780195179729

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"This is a very significant book for at least three disciplines: architectural history, church history, and liturgical studies....Kilde shows how changing concepts about the function of worship produced major changes in the design of church buildings, a process which has continued to thepresent. In so doing, she explains much of the ecclesiastical landscape of America."--James F. White, Drew University