I just saw a photo piece on the "new normal" of the retail apocalypse. As online sales of just about everything grow almost exponentially, "bricks and mortar" retail locations suffer. This includes shopping malls, many of which are bleak with shuttered stores. There is a growing phenomenon of closed malls which are falling into ruin. Some of us have lived through the rise of the shopping mall, which squeezed out smaller retailers in communities. Now they're getting their comeuppance, it would appear.
Isn't it an eye-opener that the institutions we figure will be around forever have their day? We hear of school boards announcing the closure of neighbourhood schools because of aging populations, much to the dismay of parents whose kids live near them. Schools tend to be neighbourhood and community hubs hosting a range of activities.
The same can be said for churches and their buildings. Congregations struggle to let go, even as their numbers dwindle. So many of these consecrated church structures have a beauty that transcends utility, as well as a deep patina of celebration and sorrow going back generations.
Are there easy answers to what happens with our buildings? Nope. Will changes and closures be inevitable? They've actually been happening for decades. Drive along back-country roads and you'll see "re-purposed" schools and churches, sometimes alongside each other.
We'll grieve their loss, but not much stays the same anymore.