The Swiss Religious Heritage Day is dedicated to current issues on church building in Switzerland. It supports the exchange between decision - makers from the church, historic preservation and the public as part of a congress, that takes place every two years.
On average, church buildings are renovated every thirty years. This involves mostly smaller or larger renovations and redesigns, with wich the rooms are adapted to new liturgical as well as aesthetic needs. Nowadays it is more often thought about, how churches and parish houses can get extended uses or whether they should be sold or demolished.
The responsibility for the church properties lies with the parishes. These are accompanied by the historic preservation, where it is listed buildings. Church and historic preservation approach with different orders to rebuild/renovation projects. Against the background of their 2000 year history, churches have the order/mission to remain a living church. They assess building projects from a present and future perspective. The historic preservation has the task to ensure that the history of our society remains legible in the long term on important testimonies of its construction activity. It assesses building projects from the perspective of cultural memory.
It is essential that the leaders of the church and the historic preservation know and understand each others mandates and concerns in order to work well together. The Swiss Religious Heritage Day offers a neutral forum for dialogue. Moreover, it is a platform for the exchange of questions, know-how and visions beyond canton and confessional boundaries. And finally, it also invites an extended public to communicate, in the conviction that churches are public buildings that belong to the generality.
Organizationally responsible for the Swiss Religious Heritage Day is the Liturgical Competence Center, that is part of the Theological Faculty of the University of Bern. The scientific direction lies with Prof. Dr. Johannes Stückelberger, Art Historian, Lecturer in Religion and Church Aesthetics at the Theological Faculty of the University of Bern and Titular Professor of Modern Art History at the University of Basel. Ann-Kathrin Seyffer, MA Art History and Theology, was research assisstant until the end of August 2017. Since 1 May 2019 Lena Pflüger, BA Art History, has been working on the project.
The Swiss Religious Heritage Day takes place every two years in form of a one-day congress. Specialists from the church, historic preservation, the university and the public are involved in the selection of topics, preparation and implementation. Depending on the resources, the topics of the congresses are scientifically prepared in form of publications and materials are made available on the website to the public.
The congress is only financed with external resources by sponsors, in 2015 and 2017 the supporters were: Bundesamt für Kultur, Römisch-Katholische Zentralkonferenz der Schweiz, Reformierte Kirche Zürich Stadtverband, Katholische Kirche Stadt Luzern, Reformierte Kirchen Bern-Jura-Solothurn, Evangelisch-reformierte Gesamtkirchgemeinde Bern, Römisch-katholische Gesamtkirchgemeinde Bern und Umgebung.