Two Churches Break Barriers in Response to Tragedy

December 03, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The image of the charred church became another celebrated moment in our historically acrimonious presidential election. Just days before voting, “Vote Trump” was spray painted on the side.  But after the national press left, their were serious issues for local residents.  The Hopewell Missionary Baptist Churchwas virtually destroyed.   The response to the torching of a historically African ... Read More

Holy Place / Religious

House of Religions, a Place of Shared Faith in Bern

November 29, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, and an Alevite all went to their place of worship -- and it was the same place! That means they were in Bern, Switzerland where an inspired idea that began over 15 years ago has blossomed into a vibrant institution. The House of Religions is a mixed-use facility constructed jointly by faith groups that share a heritage in the local community. In ... Read More

Worship Space / Church Design & Construction / Religious

Urban Buddha Resides Temporarily in Chicago

November 28, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

A public art installation in Chicago’s Grant park was installed last month. The piece dominates the southern edge of the public space, right next to a skatepark. Made entirely of recycled wood, the 15 foot tall piece is an abstract representation of the sitting Buddha. The creation of Tibetan-born contemporary artist, Tashi Norbu, the work’s formal name is “Be the Flower, Not the Bee,” a ... Read More

Sustainable Deisgn / Sacred Symbols / Religious

Modern Art For Old Church Walls in Spain

November 14, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Several decades ago, a small village in Northern Spain fought hard to save its old church. An airport was due to be built over old stone walls dating from as early as the 16th century. The campaign was successful, the runway was rerouted, and the Church de San Miquel Arcangel was saved. More recently, the village leaders realized they needed to find expanded uses for their landmark structure. ... Read More

Holy Place / Worship Space / Liturgical Arts / Religious

Three Religions Worship Together in Jerusalem

November 13, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

A bold, and some would say dangerous experiment was successfully conducted in Jerusalem in September. A group of religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths held eight days of shared worship services together. The group gathering, given the title AMEN, was held in a communal house of prayer, a music school converted for the purpose with modest yet highly symbolic ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Worship Spaces / Religious

Hugs and Tears at Brief Border Reunions

November 12, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Another significant event I missed this summer was the border reunion program initiated by several groups to allow families from Mexico and the US to reunite for a brief time at the border. On August 10, the El Paso border gates were opened so family members separated by the border could have 3 to 4 minute reunions. Thanks to our colleague and Heimsath Architects staff member, Richard Peña for ... Read More


Diwali Festival of Lights

November 11, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

With so much going on these past few weeks here in the US, most of us probably missed out on one of the biggest and happiest celebrations in many Eastern countries, the festival of Diwali. This annual 5-day fall celebration has its origins in Hindu spirituality, but has been incorporated into the Jain and Sikh and various Buddhist traditions as well. Though the many myths, ceremonies, and rituals ... Read More

Sacred Symbols / Religious

St Joseph Proves Value of Holding Out

November 08, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

A tough group of determined Germans were not to be trifled with in 1944. No, this isn’t about the war in Europe, the conflict here was in San Antonio and in this conflict, the Germans won! A large department store, Joske’s, had just purchased significant properties around the old St. Joseph Catholic Church, a congregation founded in 1868 by German immigrants. Try as they might, the store could ... Read More

Holy Place / Sacred Architecture / Historic Preservation / Religious

Poetic Moments at Catholic and Lutheran Common Prayer Ceremony

October 31, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The seriousness and serenity could be felt half way around the world. I felt it this morning watching the livestream of the historic joint service of Common Prayer celebrated by Pope Francis and the leaders of the Lutheran Church. My comments yesterday in anticipation of this momentous event didn’t begin to catch the significance of both Catholics and Lutherans worshipping together in recognition ... Read More

Holy Place / Memorial / Religious

Reconciling Catholic and Lutherans - 500 Years in the Making

October 30, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

At the ceremonies in the Lund Cathedral in Sweden marking the start of the year building up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Pope Francis will not just be a guest, he’ll be a co-celebrant. This breathtaking event would have been unthinkable even a few years ago, but this Pope has made ecumenicalism and the uniting of religions a major priority. A month ago, Pope Francis co-presided ... Read More

Sacred Symbols / Religious