- Living Word Christian Center
As the retail apocalypse sweeps the US, hundreds of malls are being deserted. But a blessed few are being transformed into something entirely different.
Empty and out-of-use malls are being revamped as fitness centers, offices, public libraries, movie theaters, medical clinics, and even churches.
“Only so many consumers are going to malls, and they will flock to newer ones,” June Williamson, a City College of New York architecture professor and the author of “Retrofitting Suburbia,” told Business Insider. “If developers build a new mall, they are inevitably undercutting another property. So older properties have to get re-positioned every decade, or they will die.”
Worshipping at a mall might sound strange but it’s a reality that thousands of people across the US are living.
Here’s what it’s like to go to a church that is inside a former mall.
In 2000, the deserted Grand Village Mall in Grandville, Michigan was donated to Mars Hill congregation.
Source: The Atlantic
The church revamped a huge anchor store, turning it into a huge, open chapel, nicknamed “The Hanger” because it was big enough to fit an airplane.
Source: Mars Hill website
It doesn’t look like a traditional church, but it can fit hundreds of worshippers.
The Lakeland, Florida “Church at the Mall” has retail in its name.
It’s time to celebrate!!! Join us this Sunday, September 11th at 9:30a as we celebrate our 1 year anniversary to receiving the keys to this campus! Pastor Jay Dennis will be streaming live from Auburndale and we will be having our Connect Group Kickoff party after service at 11:00a! Come out and find the right connect group for you and your family! #churchatthemall #oneyear #oneyearanniversary #auburndale
The church has two locations, offering traditional and progressive services, and streams all of its sermons online.
The First Baptist Church purchased the 400,000-square-foot Lakeland Mall for $5.6 million in the late 1990s, and spent more than $2 million on renovations transforming it into the “Church at the Mall.”
Source: Christianity Today
Inside, the set-up can look more like a concert than a classic pulpit.
WORSHIP // Today was a day to celebrate at Church at the Mall! We entered into worship with thanksgiving, Pastor Jay continued The 52 Day Nehemiah Experiment, and we honored the Lords Supper. Our students came energized from the powerful message they received over this past weekend as our OnePoint came to a close. We also celebrated Pastor Jay and Mrs. Angie for their 21 years of service to Church at the Mall. What a blessing they are to all of us! #churchatthemall #worship
From the outside, the Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park, Illinois still looks like mall.
The ministry purchased the Forest Park Mall, a 33-acre shopping mall, in 1997.
Today, the church has more than 20,000 members.
Source: Living Word Christian Center
Southland Christian Church is a Kentucky megachurch with four “campuses” and thousands of members.
- Southland Christian Church
The Lexington, Kentucky campus is located in the former Lexington Mall, which the church purchased in 2010.
At the time, The Lexington Herald Leader estimated that the defunct mall was valued at $10.7 million.
One of the most striking of the mall-turned-churches is the Euclid Square mall in Euclid, Ohio.
After shops shuttered in the early 2000, 24 Christian congregations rented empty storefronts, Cleveland.com reported.
Recording artists, Alysia, Tamara Lynn, Chanel Angelique, Darris Jean, Ryan Armand, and Stage 216 winner Young Izzi with author/radio personality Phillip Bufford and other artists at Stage 216 in Cleveland, OH. #phillipbufford #phillipbuffordlive #stageohio #stage216 @iam_alysia @iamtamaralynn @dj_fluker @ryan_armand @youngking_youngizzi @chanelangelique
Unfortunately, the mall’s days as a gathering place seem to be numbered.
Seefried Industrial Properties, a developer that has created distribution centers for Amazon, is considering buying and bulldozing the site, according to Cleveland.com.