December 17, 2002 |
CHURCHES and former synagogues are an unforgettable part of my regular walks in North Philadelphia. There they stand, like the Rock in old hymns, while so much else around them crumbles. Sacred places found in a neighborhood like Strawberry Mansion make several points to all who have eyes to see. First, these buildings memorialize a time when even middling neighborhoods erected magnificent monuments to their faiths. A hundred years ago, when North Central Philadelphia was thriving, these places of worship could hold a candle to anything in Center City or Chestnut Hill.
May 4, 2005 |
On a changeable cloudy day last week, the Rev. Constantin-Florin Salgau finally finished a grueling repair of his church roof. A remarkable feat for a Romanian Orthodox priest faced with a building's collapsing joists, crumbling plaster, dissolving murals and a host of leaks. But this was only a way station in the ongoing struggle to save historic Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church from disintegration. Before the roof work, Salgau reconstructed Holy Trinity's cupola.
May 19, 2006 |
The bell is old and heavy, its wooden supports weak and flagging. But that's only one building problem faced by historic St. Mary's Church, an 1873 neo-Gothic building on the University of Pennsylvania campus. The roof is in need of repair. The stained glass needs restoration. And the masonry is not in the best of shape. "There are holes throughout the entire facility," Alison Williams, church administrator, said with a sigh. But St. Mary's also has a plan for repairs and a great desire to preserve both its building and an ambitious cluster of community programs.
August 26, 1998 |
Our region's oldest religious buildings represent an enduring connection between people divided into suburb and city, white and black, rich and poor. After two generations of suburbanization and population loss, many congregations in the city have dissolved or moved to the suburban counties. Yet the buildings endure in older neighborhoods like North Philadelphia. And, in many cases, new congregations with different denominations inherit the historic properties of earlier residents.
December 3, 2000 |
Sacred art is his forte. Yet Bolton Morris is probably the best 20th-century artist in our region to have had hardly any career as an exhibitor, apart from respectful attention to individual works he was commissioned to make for sacred places. Now that this versatile artist is 80, Villanova University Art Gallery has filled the exhibition gap with a large retrospective show of Morris' work. From beginning to end, this 91-item display is more than a document of one artist's prolific underground career.
August 15, 1987 |
Badly typed, single-spaced, a copy of a copy of a copy. More flaky New Age stuff. It's amazing how much of it floats into my life. "On Aug. 16, 1987, a galactic beam surrounding Earth will phase acceleration to synchronization. There will be a break in the harmonic resonance of the electromagnetic field of Earth. Many enlightened beings are due to return around that time, among them the Lord of Unified Opposites, Quetzalcoatl. " I don't know why I read nonsense like this, but I do, I usually do, with a sort of incredulous fascination.
October 2, 1992 |
The landscapes that Linda Connor explores in her gold-toned, black-and- white photographs are spiritual and metaphorical rather than topographical, even though many of the prints in the exhibition of her work at Haverford College's Comfort Gallery resemble conventional landscapes. To find her pictures, Connor, who lives in California, has visited outposts, often remote, that are steeped in a palpably spiritual ambience - Katmandu in Nepal, the Indian holy city of Benares and the former Inca religious center of Macchu Pichu, perched on an Andean mountaintop.
January 30, 1994 |
Time was, raising money from a wealthy Rittenhouse Square congregation was a relatively painless task. The minister would stand in front of his parish and explain that the church needed, say, a new roof or repairs to a stained- glass window, and the money would pour in. But times have changed. As much of the city's wealth moved out to the suburbs, and as big-city problems began to cry out for attention, the churches of Philadelphia's wealthiest neighborhoods found themselves spread thin.
April 7, 2014 |
ANOTHER YEAR, and the feisty members of Fishtown's St. Laurentius Catholic Church are going toe-to-toe again with their oft-nemesis, the Philadelphia Archdiocese. First came word in 2012 that the archdiocese would shutter the parish school, even though its enrollment was increasing. A fight ensued, led by passionate well-organized parish families, and St. Laurentius prevailed (the school is doing well, by the way.) Then the archdiocese announced in 2013 that St. Laurentius would merge its parish operations into Holy Name Church, a few blocks away.
April 7, 2001 |
As President Bush's point man for faith-based initiatives, John J. DiIulio Jr. is trying to convert a vision of government-religion synergy into bricks-and-mortar reality. Critics have been quick to shoot holes in the vision, but the bricks and mortar often have their own holes. Literal, gaping holes. And sagging old walls, and leaky roofs. That is the plight of thousands of the inner-city congregations that are on the front lines of Bush's "community-serving" agenda. Many are in dilapidated buildings that hamper their ability to provide or increase social ministries.