Exploring the Church in America: Spaces

  • September 12, 19, and 26 at 7 p.m.
  • October 3 at 6 p.m.
  • Credit: 6 Hours of Theology


Why are Catholic churches built the way they are? Why are they different than Protestant churches? And how has church architecture developed over time? We'll explore these questions with two of the most prominent church architects in West Michigan.

This is the first part of a three-part series that LANE is offering in 2022-2023: "Exploring the Church in America: Spaces, Places, and Faces." We will begin by delving into the role of sacred architecture in American Catholicism.

"Exploring the Church in America: Spaces” will be taught by Greg Smith, Dean of LANE, and John Van Houten and Jamie Benvenuto of Progressive AE, a West Michigan architecture firm that has worked on a number of Catholic churches. Sessions will be taught live at Our Lady of the Lake in Holland, Michigan, and streamed online. We will go on a field trip to St. Mary Magdalene in Kentwood and St. Robert of Newminster in Ada for the fourth and final session.

Greg Smith

For four decades, Greg has taught and traveled, written and led throughout the Christian world, over thirty of those as a Protestant. After a decade-long “Road to Rome” journey, Greg and his wife “crossed the Tiber” and joined the Roman Catholic Church in 2016. With his eclectic background, he brings a global perspective on the historic Christian faith. Currently, Greg serves as the Director of Ministries at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, teaches at the Lakeshore Academy for the New Evangelization, and is the founder of One Whirling Adventure.

John Van Houten

John is a Principal and Worship Practice Leader at Progressive AE. With nearly 30 years’ experience, John possesses an expansive knowledge-base in the field of architecture working in learning, commercial, industrial, workplace, and worship environments. He provides leadership to employees, team members, clients, and consultants at all levels to ensure projects are successful from inception through construction. John is involved through all phases of the project and prides himself on making sure the work is completed as planned, budgeted, scheduled, and in conformity with the design intent.

Jamie Benvenuto

As a design architect, Jamie brings over 10 years' experience with creative planning and programming to each client and project. She facilitates visioning processes, is passionate about the integration of multi-discipline design, and guides thinking on creating a thoughtful user experience throughout each project.