Check out this Ultra-Modern Church in Oakland

When I hear the word church, my mind goes to brick facades, Gothic spires and grimacing gargoyles.

In Oakland, California, a controversial new house of worship has gone against that ancient tradition.

More reminiscent of Gehri than Gaudi, the Cathedral of Christ the Light is covered by a grid of sleek metallic curves, wood and glass.

Upon entering, a digital Jesus invites devotees to throw away their notions of church and pray in something truly unique, modern and special.

Christ_of_the_Light_Cathedral-Oakland_CA-AdventuresofaGoodMan-34
The outside of the cathedral is covered in metal and glass

 

Christ_of_the_Light_Cathedral-Oakland_CA-AdventuresofaGoodMan-15
Looking up in the main hall

 

Christ_of_the_Light_Cathedral-Oakland_CA-AdventuresofaGoodMan-20
The only stained glass is in the mausoleum – and features artificial lighting

 

Minimalism is everywhere in the Church of Christ of the Light
Minimalism is everywhere in the Cathedral of Christ the Light

 

The church both blends in and stands out among the nearby avenues of office buildings
The cathedral both blends in and stands out among the nearby avenues of office buildings

 

Christ_of_the_Light_Cathedral-Oakland_CA-AdventuresofaGoodMan-27
Looking out at the congregation from behind the pew

 

Christ_of_the_Light_Cathedral-Oakland_CA-AdventuresofaGoodMan-14
Holy Cross

The Cathedral of Christ the Light

I love architecture that defies tradition and takes risks; which is exactly what the Cathedral of Christ the Light does.

The Omega Window is sometimes referred to as the Christ JumboTron

Since its inception, the cathedral has had its share of criticism: both for misusing the dioceses budget and for featuring a non-traditionalist design.

However, when the church finally opened in 2008, critics were silenced by its overwhelmingly positive response.

 

According to the Institute for Sacred Architecture:

‘The press’s reception has been a warm one, describing the finished structure as “ethereal,” “awe-inspiring,” and “a quiet retreat.”’

 

Meanwhile, Bishop Allen Vigneron publicly said:

“Beauty is one of the principle qualities of God’s own being. The cathedral is a testament that there’s a reason to hope.”

 

This cross stands tall above the main entrance
This cross stands tall above the main entrance

 

The church exclusively uses light-colored wood
The church exclusively uses light-colored wood

 

Locals practice Tai Chi in the early morning outside the church
Locals practice Tai Chi in the early morning outside the cathedral

 

Statues and carvings adorn the interior walls
Statues and carvings adorn the interior walls

 

The church sits alongside a busy road next to Lake Merritt in Oakland, California
The church sits alongside a busy road next to Lake Merritt in Oakland, California

 

The slotted openings in the walls allow sunlight to bathe the church's interior
The slotted openings in the walls allow sunlight to bathe the church’s interior

Exploring the Mausoleum

Should you want to spend eternity at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, the basement mausoleum houses 2,700 crypts and urn plots.

Twelve of these crypts are reserved for the bishops of Oakland. The others can be reserved by members of the diocese at a relatively reasonable rate.

Even if you’re not looking for a permanent resting place, the mausoleum is still a beautiful and tranquil place to explore, reflect, sit and pray.

 

The main hallway of the basement catacombs
The main hallway of the basement mausoleum

 

Christ of the Light waits at the end of the tunnel
Christ of the Light waits at the end of the tunnel

 

One of the stained glass panels in the church's catacombs
One of the stained glass panels in the church’s basement

 

Benches offer visitors a place for silent reflection and prayer
Benches offer visitors a place for silent reflection and prayer

 

Mausoleums line the walls of the basement
Crypts line the walls of the basement

 

The official logo of the Church of Christ of the Light
The official logo of the Cathedral of Christ the Light

 

The walls and floors are covered in shiny and reflective marble
The walls and floors are covered in shiny and reflective marble

Interesting Cathedral Trivia and Tidbits

  • The cathedral is 12 stories tall.
  • Christ_of_the_Light_Cathedral-Oakland_CA-AdventuresofaGoodMan-3More than 1,000 sheets of glass cover a wooden frame made of Douglas fir trees.
  • The cathedral’s shape was inspired by the Vesica Piscis fish – an ancient symbol of Christianity.
  • According to architect Craig Hartman, “the design allows light to filter in, reminiscent of how light filters through a canopy of tall redwood trees in a wooded glade.”
  • The cathedral is a replacement for the Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales; which was destroyed during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
  • Like most new structures in California, the cathedral is built with protective mesures against future earthquakes.
  • A small garden is intended to serve as a place of healing for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
  • The cathedral cost roughly $175 million to build.
  • Photography is permitted at all times: except during mass. I learned this first hand.
  • The Cathedral of Christ the Light serves more than 530,000 devotees.
Looking up at the cathedral
Looking up at the cathedral

 

Even the benches are curved and sleek
Even the benches are curved and sleek

 

The cathedral is surrounded by modern office buildings
The cathedral is surrounded by modern office buildings

 

In the mausoleum
In the mausoleum

 

A fisheye view of the cathedral
A fisheye view of the cathedral

Which do you prefer?

Modern or traditional religious buildings?