How Church Buildings In PA Are Finding New Lives

Sep 5, 2014

The nonprofit performing arts program "Greatness Is In You" leases the church from a real estate company.
Credit ´╗┐´╗┐Marielle Segarra / WHYY

Walk a few blocks in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or any of Pennsylvania's old cities, and you're bound to see a house of worship. In Old City Philadelphia, these could be churches the founding fathers attended. In other neighborhoods, they could be former ethnic churches that served specific immigrant communities.

Many of these churches are now empty or abandoned. In Philadelphia alone, there are about 60 to 80 vacant sacred places. "Given the decline in memberships, we think many many more will close," says Bob Jaeger, president at Partners for Sacred Places, a nonprofit group that helps congregations make the most of their buildings.

Read a full version of this report at the website of Keystone Crossroads, a new statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities.