Photo cred - WSJ
Times have changed, and in the increasingly secular world, the role of the church in communities has dwindled, with many physical churches becoming unused and abandoned altogether. As the number of church-goers has steadily decreased, churches have become abandoned in Montreal, Quebec, and across Europe, but the latter has a solution: turn old churches into skate parks.
The Arnhem Skate Hall is the recreation of the Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, reports WSJ. In its heyday, the church held a thousand faithful citizens, but closed long ago, as have hundreds of European churches, and the Arnhem Skate Hall is the repurposing of the space by a few Arnhem citizens.
Decked out with ramps, rails, and jumps, the Arnhem Skate Hall is a mixture of modern and medieval, as the original architecture of the church blends with many skaters who use the indoor park. While no longer a place of worship, the space has been revitalized, and serves as a new type of meeting ground and community centre for like-minded youth.
Unfortunately, many city leaders and old-school Catholics aren't exactly on board. Arnhem politicians want to ensure the venture is lucrative and sustainable, which is justified, while the older generation of the town see the skate hall as some sort of affront to the Lord, though a church being abandoned due to a lack of an audience probably already did the job.
700 churches/convents stand in Montreal alone, with 2000 in all of Quebec, and the same rise in secularism and drop in church membership has occurred in the city and province, leaving more and more churches abandoned. Rather than let the building stand vacant and unused (only to burn to the ground, like the Franciscan church) the city should recreate the once-religious space into a new venues to form community bonds.
The same roadblocks occurring in Europe would probably be seen in Montreal, namely religious folk demonizing the practice of using a church for anything but faithful worship. But if no one is going to said churches, shouldn't the spaces be used for something beneficial to the community, like providing kids and adults a skate park to learn, grow, and practice the talents nature gave them? Something tells me the big G in the clouds would be totally cool with it.
And if skate parks aren't the city's jam, we could always transform an abandoned church into a Frankenstein-themed bar, like in Edinburgh, pic'd below. At least Mary Shelley's novel talks about God a bunch.
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