Edward A. Sövik and his “Non-Church“ Design


Jeon, Chang Hee

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The structure of the worship space can make a difference in our worship experience because the worship space impacts our experience. The buildings we worship in teach us theological truths about God. In fact, Christian worship space has evolved over the last two thousand years, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other sacred and secular architectural styles(like Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles) as well as responding to Christian faith related to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions. Sövik is a Evangelical Lutheran architect who is a leading architect from the 1970's who has been designing approximately 400 spaces for Christian worship for more than forty years. A particular shift in architectural design occurred in the nineteenth century which set the stage for Edward Sövik and his ‘non-church’ design. And the Liturgical Movements in the 20th century had an impact on Christians’ understanding of faith and from and Sövik was no exception. Sövik’s “non-church” worship space is flexible and multi-purpose. Emphasis is placed on the importance of the people who gather in these spaces. Sövik believed that churches should be the buildings of a "non-church" or "house of the people of God." For Sövik, People who gather for both liturgical and non-liturgical activities are the core element in his concept of the “non-church.” Thus, Sövik understood a church building as a space for service to both God and neighbor which could be used for more than one purpose. In fact, Sövik’s understanding of a worship space might not be appreciated by all Christians and all Christian communities today. However, implications for the way Christians ought to be thinking about incarnating Christian worship spaces is a valuable thing that Christians do not have to loose today.


I. Introduction
 II. Sövik’s ‘non-church’ design and it theological background
 III. Sövik’s ‘non-church’ design and liturgical architectures
 IV. Conclusion


  • Jeon, Chang Hee Assistant Professor of Hyup-Sung University


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