The Interchurch World Movement and the Scientific Survey of American Religious Architecture, 1919-1924

by Brian Zugay

Jan 1, 2010
The failures and shortcomings of the Interchurch World Movement of North America (IWM) of 1919-1920 are well documented, and historians Eldon Ernst, Charles Harvey, and Albert Schenkel have done much to reevaluate its legacy and to explore John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s (JDR Jr.) guiding role in this ambitious experiment into interdenominational cooperative action. However, there is one positive and lasting contribution of the IWM which has generally escaped notice: the special architectural work conducted within the IWM's American Religious Education Survey Department (ARESD). In 1919, the ARESD devised detailed architectural standards for American Protestant churches and Sunday schools in connection with its survey activities, and these were published by the Interchurch Press in 1920 as Standards for City Church Plants. This was the first set of interdenominational church-building standards ever produced, and a unique accompanying score card permitted the survey and rating of the effectiveness of existing church facilities.
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