Redefining Clerical and Audience Authority in the Architecture of Urban Revivals

Jeanne Halgren Kilde

in When Church Became Theatre

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780195143416
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834372 | DOI:
Redefining Clerical and Audience Authority in the Architecture of Urban Revivals

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Examines the impact of early nineteenth‐century revivalism on church space and argues that the progenitors of the late nineteenth‐century auditorium churches were the theater‐like buildings used during the urban revivals of the Presbyterian Free Church Movement in New York City. The Chatham Street Chapel and the Broadway Tabernacle, used by the renowned preacher, Charles Grandison Finney, proved highly facilitative of the antiformalism that dominated revivalist worship and the New Measures revival techniques that Finney employed. The acoustics, unobstructed sightliness, and large pulpit stages in these buildings focused audience attention and aided dramatic preaching performances. Frequently leased for many types of meetings, these religious spaces created a new type of heterogeneous public space, which, at times, was strongly contested.

Keywords: acoustics; antiformalism; Broadway Tabernacle; Charles Grandison Finney; Chatham Street Chapel; Free Church Movement; New Measures; Presbyterian; public space; revivalism

Chapter.  16660 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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