Fast-growing religious minorities in Ireland are using warehouses and other industrial buildings as worship space, according to a pair of stories by Colette Colfer in The Irish Times. The first story says,
Warehouses are used by migrant Pentecostal and Muslim groups as well as sometimes by Orthodox Christians and other religious denominations. Renting them is affordable, particularly during the economic downturn, and objections by the public on the basis of planning or parking are rare.
In a bit a contradiction, however, the second story says government officials soon might begin restricting such activity in Fingal, north of Dublin city center, which “has one of the highest population growth rates in the country and recorded the largest increase of non-Irish nationals in the 2011 census.”
While the number of Roman Catholics in Ireland reached a record 3.86 million, the proportion of population practicing the faith dropped to a 130-year low of 84.2 percent, down from the 1961 high of 94.9 percent. As noted in this press release for the 2011 census:
The twenty years between 1991 and 2011 has seen significant increases in the non-Catholic population driven by not only growing numbers with no religion but also large increases in the religions of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
The use of warehouses or vacant retail space for religious practice is fairly common in the United States. In reporting about commercial real estate for the Tampa Bay Business Journal, I’ve met several landlords who were happy to get rental income from religious groups, even if they had to offer the space at below market rates.
Eventually, as once established congregations move on or die off, their church buildings come on the market like any other piece of real estate. Here’s a list of 13 church properties for sale in Tampa. The churches are either bought by new congregations, or the buildings are renovated for new uses such as art galleries, restaurants…even a turf shed.