Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update February 12, 2024

New Ways to Worship

Houses of worship and faith-based organizations across the country are grappling with the aftermath of COVID-19, a decrease in membership, and other changes in the faith community shaking up their place. 

Black and multiracial congregations have shown resilience and high levels of community outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they are facing significant financial struggles compared to majority white congregations. The challenges these congregations face includes clergy wellbeing. Clergy members across all congregational racial compositions are facing increased thoughts of leaving their ministries or faith communities in 2023 compared to previous years, indicating heightened levels of stress and burnout among clergy.

Presbyterian churches in Kansas argue that a church can thrive and fulfill its mission without a pastor, where church members lead the congregation. Some see this as a viable and adaptive approach to embodying the teachings of Christ and serving the community, calling for a shift in mindset and embracing the idea that church members can effectively lead congregations.

Joseph W. Daniels Jr. highlights that legacy plays a significant role in guiding the actions and decisions of church leaders, particularly regarding the use and preservation of church property for community benefit and revitalization. By embracing their role as "persons delegated" to fulfill a mission and preserve a legacy of positive impact, churches can bring new life to their communities and navigate challenges effectively.

Secular congregations have been largely emerging as alternatives to traditional religious organizations. These gatherings provide nonreligious individuals with opportunities for community, ritual, and support, mirroring many aspects of religious services while emphasizing atheistic beliefs and secular values.

Redeveloping Houses of Worship 

In Henrietta, NY  the Good Shepherd Church is being repurposed into a community theater space, polling location, and event rental space, with renovations underway to make it accessible and functional. Town Supervisor Steve Schultz emphasizes the importance of preserving the historic building and honors community theater member Betty Miller by naming the facility after her.

Houses of Worship and the Migrant Crisis

The First Baptist Church of Midland in Texas is allowing a persecuted Chinese congregation, known as the "Mayflower Church," to worship regularly on its property after the congregation was granted asylum in the United States. Despite facing persecution and fleeing from China, the Mayflower Church found refuge in Texas with the help of various organizations and government agencies. 

In New York City, many migrants attempt to find shelter in various churches, including the Church of God of East Flatbush. Ramon, a newly arrived migrant in NYC, says he has slept in four different houses of worship, all scattered across the city. Ramon and other migrants typically arrive at the churches around 8 p.m. and leave at 6 a.m. and are often in search of the next church or shelter to stay in for the night. 

Migrants wait in line at a church in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Credit: Christopher Gregory-Rivera, special to ProPublica

Breaking Down Affordable Housing

Taking the common question, “What would it take to build more family-sized affordable housing in DC,” the author of this article series takes us through how affordable housing works as a developer. Walking through the math of developing affordable housing, he comes to the conclusion that affordable housing can’t pay for itself. 

“Much of the work of affordable housing development involves finding creative ways to close the gap so that a project’s sources and uses balance and the housing can be built. This often involves tapping into additional government funding programs, finding philanthropic partners, or utilizing market-rate housing to cross-subsidize affordable units.” 

If you enjoy these weekly updates, please consider becoming a Bricks and Mortals member or making a contribution so we can continue to provide this and resources like it. Sign up to join our mailing list and get these every week!

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