Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update December 5, 2022

Here's your weekly update of news and media relevant to Bricks and Mortals's mission.

Houses of Worship and Mission Work 

Houses of worship around the US continue to serve as safehouses for migrants and asylum seekers. Borderland Ministries has seen the need for providing safe space for Mexican asylum seekers. Reverend Ana Reza says “if it wasn’t for this space Border Patrol would just drop them off at the airport and we see how that’s going.” Meanwhile, migrants from Senegal have found a safe haven in New York City Mosques. Imam Omar Niass has been welcoming migrants in his mosque in the Bronx for a year and a half now. But this raises the question: what kind of support will houses of faith receive to continue to serve migrant communities?

US Southern border. Photo via  

Recently, an article came out about a congregation building a home for their Imam due to rising housing costs. Members of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake in Utah decided to build Imam Habib Sarfraz a house on the mosque property to support him. This community-driven act signals to the fact that even leaders of houses of worship struggle with finding affordable housing. Habitat for Humanity published their 2022 State of the Nation’s Housing report; one major takeaway was that home prices rose 20.6% from March 2021 to March 2022 and rents jumped 12%. This data shows that unaffordability worsened even further in the past two years. In response to skyrocketing rent in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced steps to broaden the pool of people who are eligible for a rental subsidy program that could help them stay in their homes or afford new apartments.

Houses of Worship and Security

The recent threat against an NYC synagogue left an echoing fear across New York and the Jewish community. And the recent tragedy at the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ nightclub has further emphasized that “hate is on the rise.” Mayor Adams recently responded to the threat and discussed the efforts that stopped the antisemitic attack from being fulfilled. Essentially, online surveillance from The Community Security Initiative of the UJA-Federation of New York alerted the authorities about the planned attack, later leading to the arrests of the perpetrators. This surveillance initiative is an excellent example of how security for houses of worship can expand traditional security tactics and defense efforts, especially considering the evolving gun laws in New York

Houses of Worship and Innovation

So how else can houses of worship creatively protect, improve and serve their congregations? A Catholic Church in Pennsylvania recently installed a community garden. According to the Sun Gazette, the garden will host a “Seed to Supper” program designed to give novice gardeners the tools to successfully grow a portion of their own food. Similarly, The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas has installed a new garden at the Bethany House and Garden. The site is home to a pollinator garden, a culinary garden, a chapel for worship, weddings and other outdoor events and a Spiritual Life Garden, which is a quiet space for prayer and meditation. 

After a few years of virtual services, many houses of worship are finding innovative ways to connect to congregations and develop alternative worship experiences. One church in Florida is now offering a unique multi-sensory worship experience that will include ancient prayers, live music, projected images and a candlelit walking meditation. The service is called SCAPE, and they invite participants to move around the worship space and engage all their senses, encouraging a rhythmic and mystical experience with God. 

SCAPE Worship Service. Photo via

Houses of Worship and Development  

Finally, last week it was reported that a 175-year-old church in Manhattan’s Rose Hill neighborhood will be demolished. The First Moravian Church, once served as a meeting place for women's groups, patriotic societies and a safe haven for Armenian immigrants. Developers now plan to build an 11-story mixed-use building on the site. 

First Moravian Church. Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim via

Curbed recently reported that the Times Square Margaritaville is being sued. The original agreement for the development stated that the 32-story resort can be built, but they must include space for the building’s long-term resident, the historic Garment Center Congregation. However, instead of an entrance for the synagogue, there is an adorned sign “that states ‘Rooftop Bar.’”

Thanks for reading!

Looking to preserve your space through a variety of creative strategies?