How do space and architecture shape liturgical celebrations within a parish? In Theology and Form: Contemporary Orthodox Architecture in America, Nicholas Denysenko profiles seven contemporary Eastern Orthodox communities in the United States and analyzes how their ecclesiastical identities are affected by their physical space and architecture. He begins with an overview of the Orthodox architectural heritage and its relation to liturgy and ecclesiology, including topics such as stational liturgy, mobility of the assembly, the symbiosis between celebrants and assembly, placement of musicians, and festal processions representative of the Orthodox liturgy. Chapters 2–7 present comparative case studies of seven Orthodox parishes. Some of these have purchased their property and built new edifices; Denysenko analyzes how contemporary architecture makes use of sacred space and engages visitors. Others are mission parishes that purchased existing properties and buildings, posing challenges for and limitations of their liturgical practices. The book concludes with a reflection on how these parish examples might contribute to the future trajectory of Orthodox architecture in America and its dialogical relationship with liturgy and ecclesial identity.
“This book makes a unique contribution to its field. It is broadly and intentionally cross-disciplinary in its character, embracing architecture, liturgical theology, aesthetics, sociology, and oral history. In this way it manages to give an especially detailed portrait of Orthodoxy in America that has no precedent. It is also a very personal work—only someone with the author’s broad training and his highly attuned sense of the visual and the liturgical could possibly write such an informed and also deeply sympathetic work.” — Peter C. Bouteneff, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
“By focusing on the architecture of seven distinct American Orthodox churches, Denysenko’s richly rendered study shows that even the most tradition-sensitive liturgies are celebrated in spaces that reflect the evolving values, practical circumstances, and cultural contexts of their congregations through time and across space. Rather than reviewing archetypes or models, and intentionally setting aside the ideal of form following function, Denysenko attends to the ways that diverse worshipping communities faithfully shape their worship space while being shaped by it in turn.” — Robin Jensen, Patrick O’Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
“In this book, Nicholas Denysenko takes Orthodox church architecture out of the realm of theory and into that of practice. He challenges the paradigm that yokes the design of formalist church space to liturgy by investigating the ways in which parishioners shape their churches to satisfy a host of needs. Immigrant cultural identity, community heritage and future, and lay empowerment are the most prominent among the many layers of use and meaning that the author skillfully peels back. The analysis presented in this book is essential reading for anyone interested in Eastern Orthodoxy in America, religious architecture generally, or the life of immigrant communities.” — *Jeanne Halgren Kilde, author of Sacred Power, Sacred Space: An Introduction to Christian Architecture and Worship *