Monday, December 5, 2022

«The church is not a real estate company»

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Ansgar Gmür accuses the churches of making too little of their real estate portfolios.

The theologian Ansgar Gmür (69) is harsh on the parishes. His accusation: The municipalities make far too little of their large real estate portfolio and waste a lot of money. In his conclusion, it was not managed efficiently enough and was too unprofessional. Gmür was director of the Swiss Home Owners’ Association (HEV) for almost two decades and comprehensively examined the real estate holdings of the churches in Switzerland in a thesis. He demands that the churches repurpose empty buildings and rent or sell them.

The criticism is not well received everywhere. Markus Dütschler, who is responsible for communications at the Reformed Churches in Bern-Jura-Solothurn, admits that there is undoubtedly a need for action when it comes to underused real estate. “However, the church is not a real estate company that works purely on the basis of profitability. Church buildings or parish houses are part of the identity of a city quarter or a village. That’s why you have to proceed cautiously and with tact in these questions,” he counters.

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