Significant New Church in Kansas

This past weekend, The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas had its dedication liturgies for its new building. In addition to being the largest United Methodist Church in the nation, the building was designed to be intentionally sacramental and to evangelize through its design. Readers may be interested in the importance placed on baptismal furniture (both the font and the “stoop” for people to sign themselves whey enter the space) and the centrality of the altar within the space. Additionally, the building features the largest single image stained glass window in the world.

Next week, following the formal opening of the building, Pray Tell Blog will have an article featuring the architecture firm, Fr. Richard Vosko, the liturgical consultant, and information about the building and the building process from the church itself. Until then, you can tour the facility via pictures from The Kansas City Business Journal.

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12 comments

  1. In all honesty, it looks more like a theater (or television studio) than a place for a liturgical assembly. Would the members of the congregation be expected to come forward to the table to receive communion? The theater-style seats would not seem to encourage that (though I guess the same might be said for pews).

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
      Fritz, yes, it does. And from the front outside, it looks a bit like a humidifier I once had.

      But let’s keep in mind – this is a huge mega-church with 10,000+ worshiping every Sunday. So the story here might be: “Protestant Megachurch Auditorium Looks Surprisingly Like a Church, with Sacramentally-Minded Attention to Primary Liturgical Symbols,” rather than “This isn’t really a church, it’s an auditorium.”

      How do they do Communion, I wonder? (And how often?) Do people come forward to the altar table area but remain on the assembly floor level without climbing the steps up to the table itself? That seems likely to me.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        I agree with Father Anthony here. Yes, clearly a big auditorium here. But for a big auditorium style church, I’ve never seen an altar as visible as this one here.

        Especially when I consider that in most Methodist churches that I’ve been to, the altar is small and against the back wall, and it’s usually the pulpit that’s front and center. Here it’s the altar (and a rather small font).

        Now that I think of it: where is the pulpit/ambo?

  2. Anthony Ruff, OSB : So the story here might be: “Protestant Megachurch Auditorium Looks Surprisingly Like a Church, with Sacramentally-Minded Attention to Primary Liturgical Symbols,” rather than “This isn’t really a church, it’s an auditorium.”

    At the risk of continuing what seems to be my rather negative string of comments: I think there is a difference between looking like a Church for liturgical worship and actually being functional as a church for liturgical worship. I made a similar critique of a new Catholic church a while back.

  3. Fritz,

    Have you been to Fr. L’s parish since it opened? Perhaps a second article would be nice to follow up if you’re able to visit.

  4. In the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, in which COR exists, it is commonly known (if not officially acknowledged or addressed) that a (growing) number of Catholic families who reside in the parishes nearby COR (especially in Leawood and southern Overland Park) openly admit to attending COR at least once a month because of this community’s well-known dynamics of evangelization, fellowship, preaching and worship style in general. I’m not suggesting that this factor has necessarily driven COR’s decisions regarding arrangement of furnishings and such, but these decisions, coupled with the qualities of this community mentioned above, will certainly make attendance there by otherwise-practicing Catholics even more amenable, especially if regular celebrations of the Lord’s Supper according to the rites promoted by the UMC (which reflect the overall pattern of the Mass) ensue. Maybe all of this is nothing more than interesting, but it should be of interest nonetheless.

  5. “it looks a bit like a humidifier I once had.”

    That’s very funny!

    When I saw the first shot in the slideshow, I thought it looked a lot like a suburban office building. And various interior shots (apart from the actual worship space) reinforce that impression. Suburban office buildings also are known to feature natural lighting, minimalist art and collaborative cubicle arrangements. And some have child care facilities.

    In my opinion, it doesn’t look like a church. I happened to be reflecting a bit about the distinction between essence and accident earlier today. I am sorry to say that my first impression of that building is that it lacks the essence, the “church-ness”, of a church.

    Perhaps that design is what the people of Kansas are looking for; maybe that appearance beckons them, draws them in – maybe it’s evangelizing. For me, it wouldn’t work.

  6. I liked that the newspaper referred to the baptismal font as a “water feature” – and kudos to whomever put some good marketing spin on the “cry room” and transformed it into the “soothing room” – but none of the photos showed the organ pipes … I did find myself wondering about the acoustics, given the thousands of upholstered individual seats in the room. But I’m guessing an acoustic for any sort of “unplugged” music isn’t what they were looking for.

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