The Place of the Church

CAVAD Architecture Symposium Fall 2023

CBU Architecture Symposium

Exploring Revitalization and Reintegration of Churches

CBU Architecture Symposium
October 20-21, 2023
Riverside, California

All Events will be held:*
Adams Building – RM 113
3739 Adams Street, Riverside CA

*Event will also be broadcast to registered remote participants


Program Statement:

Historically in America, the Christian church building has stood as the physical center and often the corresponding cultural center of many communities. With approximately 350,000 Christian church buildings across 3,000 counties in America, the regular physical presence of the church in the built environment is an ongoing reminder of Christianity and thus a cornerstone of the cultural plausibility of the faith.

However, a survey of contemporary church properties calls into question the success of the church’s physical presence in supporting social imaginaries. Multiple developments in the church have led to church properties’ diminished role in supporting the plausibility of the faith. Development trends during the last century in the Protestant church pushed campuses to the outskirts of town, separating the church from the communities it served. A sense of pragmatism and desire for comfort has resulted in austere, unadorned structures undiscernible as places of worship. Declining church participation of majority populations, alongside the rise of minority and immigrant church participation, results in observable mismatches between the use of existing structures and new cultural dynamics. And finally, a reduction in church attendance in historic mainline Protestant denominations have rendered centrally located buildings unused.

Acknowledging the important role that physical church properties have on validating the plausibility of the faith, and recognizing the contemporary situation, the 2023 CBU Architecture symposium explores the revitalization and reintegration of the church – ultimately asking, what is the place of the church?

Papers or presentations may include, but are not limited to, architectural, urbanistic, interior, theological, missiological, liturgical, sociological, and community development considerations of:

  • Revitalization of Existing Churches
  • Integration of New Churches
  • Architecture’s Role in Christian Witness
  • Design Considerations for Effective Plausibility of the Faith
  • Design Considerations for Longevity of Christian Architectural Witness
  • Regenerative Church Design
  • Global approaches to the Place of Church
  • Transcendence in Sacred Architecture
  • Emerging Trajectories in Church Architecture

Steering Committee

Professor Keelan Kaiser, FAIA
Rev. Dr. Matthew Niermann, AIA
Dr. Karim Youssef
Professor Jacob Slagill, AIA

Call for Papers / Presentations

Proposals are welcomed from scholars, professionals, and students. Student engagement is encouraged from undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels from all relevant disciplines.

Submission Information

Interested individuals are invited to submit abstracts of a maximum of 500 words with a title, following the Chicago Manual of Style. Multiple abstracts may be submitted by an author or authorial team. Professional presentation proposals are included in the abstract review.

Abstracts will follow a blind peer-review process with at least two scholars considering each submission. The individual recommendations will be sent and studied by the conference conveners who will make the final determination regarding accepting or rejecting a proposal. Symposium abstracts will be electronically published prior to the meeting.

Format and Place of Submission

Abstracts should define focus and summarize its positioned approach or argument. All proposals should demonstrate engagement with the symposium’s theme, though related subjects will be considered.

Proposals should include the following:

  • Name, Title, and Organization of individual(s) submitting
  • Title of paper or presentation
  • Identification of Proposed Paper or Presentation Session Topic
  • 500 word abstract
  • Any necessary footnote / bibliographic information
  • Five keywords

Please submit proposals at:
Please direct questions to Professor Jacob Slagill (


Submission Deadline: September 22, 2023
Notification of Acceptance: No later than September 29, 2023
Post-Conference Paper Submission: November 24, 2023

Symposium Schedule


Symposium Attendance

Contact Leslie Valazquez at to register intent to attend.

Travel & Lodging

Symposium will take place on the California Baptist University Campus in Riverside, CA.

Participants are asked to arrange their own lodging if needed.  Suggested local hotels are below:

Mission Inn
3649 Mission Inn Ave.
Riverside, CA  92501

Hyatt Place – Riverside
3500 Market Street
Riverside, CA  92501

Marriott Riverside at the Convention Center
3400 Market Street
Riverside, CA

Past Symposia

Spring 2023 – Purpose & Passion in Practice

We are reminded that our job is not our purpose. But our job – our calling – can be a huge part of the way we live out our purpose to proclaim the Gospel and build the Kingdom of God. But just like it looks different to lead a church in Beijing vs Paris vs Dallas, living out our calling as architects can look very different for each of us in our specific contexts. Some of us will work in arenas where our faith must be lived and not openly spoken. Some of us will get the opportunity to shape our work around clearly Christian values and principles. Some of us will work as architects on explicitly missional efforts around the world. God’s will for us is to use whatever opportunity He gives us to do His work. CBU Architecture’s Spring symposium on Purpose and Passion in Practice will bring together a variety of guests who have lived out their purpose in all of these ways and more, revealing the potential for eternal value in whatever path one may find themselves on, now and in the future.

Join us as we embark on a journey filled with authentic discussions, enlightening presentations, and networking-resource growing opportunities with a wide range of practitioners, academics, and alumni focused on purpose and passion in practice!


Fall 2022 – Transcendence, Imagination, and a Secular Age

Over the course of 400 – 500 years, Western civilization has moved from a culture where it was virtually impossible to not believe in God, to a culture where many find the idea of believing in God difficult to fully embrace. As Charles Taylor describes in his work, A Secular Age, the decline in religious participation by larger numbers of non-believers is not the defining marker of our ‘secular’ age. Rather, Taylor argues that our current age is defined by a fundamental shift in the plausibility structures and social imaginaries that support belief. Whereas sixteenth-century imaginaries understood the world as both immanent and transcendent with a porous boundary, the contemporary world operates from a closed immanent frame leaving individuals with un-situated lingering notions of the transcendent. The fundamental result is that individuals are now simultaneously pressured by belief and unbelief. Those who are disconnected from religious faith are ‘haunted’ by the transcendent, fearing something may have been lost, and those who have faith often believe while doubting.

The 2022 CBU Architecture symposia explores the role of architecture in responding to our ‘secular age’ as described by Taylor. Papers or presentations may include, but are not limited to, architectural, urbanistic, interior, theological, missiological, liturgical, sociological, and community development considerations of:

The Role of Beauty in a Secular Age
Architectural Witness and Faith
Transcendence in the Ordinary
Architecture and Imagination
Transcendence in Sacred Architecture
Architecture’ Role in Social Imaginaries
Emerging Trajectories in Church Architecture
Architecture Within an Immanent Frame


Fall 2018 – Contemplating Warehouses and Worship

The 2018 CBU Architecture Symposium addressed and assessed the contemporary situation of church design practice including:

From Church to Warehouse, From Warehouse to Church
Exploring Attractional Church Architecture
Architectural Form Responses to Church Outreach Models
Efficacy of Architectural Evangelism
Sacredness and Evangelical Architecture
Church Architecture in a Secular Culture
Role of Patronage in Church Architecture
Archetypes and Antitypes
Architecture and Great Awakenings
Emerging Evangelical Liturgy
Emerging Trajectories in Church Architecture

Keynote Lecture: Dr. Jeanne Halgren Kilde, University of Minnesota

Past Symposium Papers


Kelly Foster– Associate Professor of Art, Gordon College
The Value and Limits of Designing Toward Social Imaginaries in Architecture

Isabel Potworowski – PhD Candidate, Carleton University
Mediator of Transcendence: The Kolumba Museum in Cologne

Brandon R. Ro, AIA,NCARB,ICAA – Assistant Professor, Utah Valley University
Beauty and Transcendence in Architecture: Four Ideals for the Secular Age