The future of parish churches in Flanders, Belgium: a dialogue on municipality level
Architectural drawing and design
Aesthetics of cities. City planning and beautifying
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AbstractThis paper provides an overview of the actual discussion on the future of circa 1800 parish churches in Flanders, the northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Secularisation and dwindling church attendance is similar to the rest of North-Western Europe, but two factors let slightly differ the issue of underused or abandoned churches in Flanders: (1) 99% of Flemish parish churches are Roman-Catholic, (2) the functioning of fabric committees, public administrations which are nominated by the bishop and financially supported by the Municipalities. After a historical introduction, the method which is obliged by the Flemish Government – elaborating a “Church Policy Plan” in a local dialogue, the guidelines and terminology of the Flemish bishops and mode of operation of the “Centre for Religious Art and Culture” (CRKC) is explained. Examples from rural and urban areas illustrate the diversity of the future use of churches of a municipality: from status quo to complete rejection.