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When Church Became TheatreThe Transformation of Evangelical Architecture and Worship in Nineteenth-Century America$
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Jeanne Halgren Kilde

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195143416

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195143418.001.0001

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Transformation of Protestant Architecture

Transformation of Protestant Architecture

(p.3) 1 Transformation of Protestant Architecture
When Church Became Theatre

Jeanne Halgren Kilde (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Introducing the transformation in the evangelical church architecture that occurred over the course of the nineteenth century – from the Federalist meetinghouses with their oblong meeting rooms filled with box pews and dominated by an elevated pulpit to the late nineteenth‐century auditorium church with its radial‐plan sanctuary with sloped floors, curved pews, and pulpit stage surmounted by organ pipes – this chapter asserts that this extraordinary architectural transformation bears witness to significant changes in Protestant evangelicalism over the course of the century. Demonstrating that religious buildings, like other types of sacred space, embody a variety of cultural, social, and religious meanings, the chapter presents an illustrative overview of Protestant architecture since the Reformation, emphasizing, in particular, the ways in which cultural and religious authority have been negotiated by clergy and laity within church buildings. Important meanings and processes continue to inform church buildings, thus making them vital texts in the study of religious change.

Keywords:   architecture, auditorium, church, Evangelicalism, meetinghouses, Reformation, sacred, space

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