Worship Space of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in the Context of Historical Christian Architecture and Art
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This study examines the history of Christian architecture and art, and how Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) churches shape worship space in the 21st century. When believers come together in corporate worship they gather as a community to receive God’s blessings through the proclamation of the gospel in Word and sacrament. Therefore, a church building will be designed in Christian good taste and discretion to allow for this clear proclamation. First, the paper investigates how church architecture has accomplished this in the past. There is an emphasis on how Lutheran architecture developed in post-Reformation Europe. Then there is an examination of the Second Vatican Council’s impact on modern theory of worship space, and the response from critics. Finally, the paper concludes with four case studies of 21st century WELS worship space that reveals certain trends. In conclusion, Lutheran churches today continue to keep the proclamation of the gospel as the priority in worship. However, their expressions of traditional architecture (and style in general) will differ according to circumstance, setting, and Christian judgment.