International conference considers future of churches in Europe, North America

.- An international symposium will consider what will happen to the growing number of empty churches in the West. The four-day conference, titled "What Future for Which Churches?" will open today in Montreal, Canada.

North American and European researchers will gather Oct. 19-22 at UQAM (University of Quebec in Montreal) to discuss solutions to questions of heritage, use and ownership (public, private, or public-private partnership) of religious buildings.

Organizers say the conference is necessary given the drastic decrease in church attendance in the West.

A number of scholars will present the European experience, particularly in France, Belgium, England, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. American speakers will discuss the massive church closures in Boston and church preservation projects in the eastern U.S. Canadian researchers will address ownership systems.

Participants will also debate the role of government in caring for churches, particularly churches deemed religious heritage buildings.

The conference is sponsored by UQAM’s Canada Research Chair on Urban Heritage, the Quebec Religious Heritage Foundation, the Montreal Heritage Council and Concordia University.

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