Fortezza, Umilitade, e Largo Core - Courage, Humility, and Largeness of Heart.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Religion in a Box: A Site Visit to The Buckhead Church

Several people wanted to come along when I did a site visit to Northpoint's The Buckhead Church for my Sacred Spaces class but were unable to join me. I promised to share my paper with them and this seemed to be the most efficient way to do so.

My second site visit was to the Buckhead church. One enters the church from a multi-level parking structure by crossing a sky bridge. When I opened the door I was struck with the overwhelming feeling that I was entering a convention center. Greeting congregants as they come through the door were several people dressed in business casual with a high tech two-way communication devices evident.
Everybody is really friendly and really pretty (I almost felt like I was in a reality T.V. show). I introduced myself and got permission to take photographs but they emphasized to only take pictures before or after service because of copyright infringement. The lobby is the first indication of how huge this facility is and it reminded me of every convention center I have ever been in. Upon entering the auditorium (yes they call it an auditorium, not a sanctuary), I was struck by what a huge production this is.

I was surprised to find no icons of any type: no Jesus, no cross, not even one projected like the one in The Church of Light in Osaka, Japan. Even during the service there are no symbols of any kind. Again, I found nicely dressed people with high tech two-way communication devices, high tech lighting and sound with men on platforms running the complicated systems. There is a huge stage with two large screens, one on either side and on the screens are playing short commercial-like videos that are produced by the church. The one playing when I walked in was explaining how to find community within such a large congregation. The auditorium has a maximum capacity of 2900 including the balcony seating. The Sunday evening service, which I attended, usually draws approximately 1500 people.