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A joyful launch for Sacred Places/Civic Spaces

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Over 200 advocates for Philadelphia's sacred spaces joined us to launch Sacred Places/Civic Spaces on June 5th. We were pleased to announce the following participants in the Sacred Places/Civic Spaces design challenge—accompanied by a drum roll from the audience!

The Philadelphia Masjid
4700 Wyalusing Avenue | Mill Creek
Community Partner: People’s Emergency Center
Design Partner: HOK

Wharton-Wesley United Methodist Church
5341 Catharine Street | Cobbs Creek
Community Partner: ACHIEVEability
Design Partner: Brawer & Hauptman, Architects

Zion Baptist Church
3600/3601 North Broad Street | Nicetown-Tioga
Community Partner: Called to Serve CDC
Design Partner: Studio 6mm

Sacred Places/Civic Spaces is a partnership between the Community Design Collaborative and Partners for Sacred Places to re-envision underutilized, purpose-built religious properties as community hubs. Sacred Places/Civic Spaces has been made possible through the generosity of the William Penn Foundation.

Over the next six months, these congregations, communities, and design teams will envision ways for congregations to sustain their sacred places and communities by putting excess space back into active use. The results of their collaborations will be revealed on December 4th at the Center for Architecture and Design, 1218 Arch Street. 

A higher purpose
“This groundbreaking project is not just for Philadelphia, but for the whole nation,” said Bob Yaeger, President of Partners for Sacred Places at the initiative’s launch on Tuesday. “We all know, sadly, that many of Philadelphia’s churches, synagogues, and mosques have congregations that are smaller than they once were. We have 800 sacred places but we’re losing them—and we could lose a lot more. There are a lot of challenges, but also an opportunity here.”

“Sacred places are often the largest, most notable structures in our neighborhoods. If they close, that’s a big deal,” said Beth Miller, Executive Director of the Community Design Collaborative. “Each site is a vital part of their neighborhood and demand innovative thinking and solutions.”

Don’t say, ‘Let’s use this church for a secular purpose.’ Instead say, “Let’s use this church for a higher purpose.’

The Reverend Timothy Safford of Christ Church in Philadelphia set the intention for the design challenge with lessons from the revival of Christ Church’s Neighborhood House. “You have to looking at the future. You need to see who is coming and be prepared to treat them as a member of your congregation in its most basic meaning. Use your building and know that something new can happen. Don’t say, ‘Let’s use this church for a secular purpose.’ Instead say, “Let’s use this church for a higher purpose.’” 



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