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The Megachurch in the Landscape: Adapting to Changing Sale and Managing Integrated Green Space in Texas and Oklahoma, USA

In: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
Author:
Susan Bratton Chair and Professor of Environmental Science, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798, USA Susan_Bratton@baylor.edu

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Christian megachurches in Texas and Oklahoma, of 4000 weekly attendance or greater, vary in green space design from impenetrable to highly accessible, and from predominantly mowed lawn to sophisticated plans incorporating a variety of outdoor recreational and ritual spaces. The most complex layouts include sites for baptism and prayer, as well as small natural areas. Conscious expression of practical theology or Christian symbolism in the green space is correlated to higher landscape connectivity and diversity. The recent appearance of large church campuses, exceeding 50 ha, has resulted in sporadic innovation, while for many large congregations green space remains an underutilized resource. Five theological questions for religious campus planners include how does green space: 1) express God's beauty; 2) honor providential environmental services; 3) teach about the relationship between God, humanity, and the environment; 4) provide connections among God, nature, the congregation and the neighbors; and 5) provide for the needs of others?

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