Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update May 12, 2023

Celebrating Holidays 

The White House hosted its third-annual Vesak ceremony last Friday, May 5th. Vesak, also known as Buddha Day, commemorates Buddha’s birth, death and enlightenment. This administration was the first in U.S. history to organize a formal celebration for the holiday.

Ambassadors from the countries of Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand, and Sri Lanka and delegations from India, Indonesia, and Mongolia were present at the celebration.

Vesak celebration at the White House. Photo from

Houses of Worship and the Affordable Housing Crisis

In New York City, Governor Kathy Hochul announced two new development projects of mixed-use projects that will include 700 apartments, including 281 affordable units to help address the housing crisis. These projects are part of the Governor’s $25 billion comprehensive Housing Plan. 

Elsewhere, many congregations across the country are taking things into their own hands by using their own property to develop affordable housing. This doubles as a space for people to live and a way for congregations to make extra revenue. 

“Even if just 10% of the faith-owned land got activated tomorrow for affordable housing, we’re talking about potentially hundreds of thousands of units around the country,” says the Rev. David Bowers, an Enterprise vice president and leader of Faith-Based Development Initiative. 

One example is Arlington Presbyterian Church. The Church noticed the number of their congregation decreasing - and realized many in their community were struggling to find housing. They sold their land to a nonprofit developer in 2016 and now a six-story complex with 173 apartments stands in its place. 

The demolition of Arlington Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Va, in 2016. In its place now stands Gilliam Place, a six-story affordable housing complex with 173 apartments. (Lloyd Wolf via AP)


Congregation News 

The Women’s Mosque of America in Los Angeles, the nation’s first women-only mosque, is striving to create a women-led community to come together and practice Islam. Many of the women in the congregation see it as a safe space that developed naturally that adds to their lives spiritually. 

The Sisters of Charity of New York, a congregation that has been active for over 200 years, has announced that they will not be accepting new members. The congregation was originally founded as an independent community in 1846. Since their inception, they have opened or staffed 185 schools, 28 hospitals, 23 child care institutions, and other ministries to serve those in need. 

The Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton and James Watson House in New York City. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton founded the Sisters of Charity. | Credit: Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock

(Inter)Faith Events 

The National Jewish-Christian Dialogue met in NYC last month to discuss reparations and national healing for the Holocaust. The group also met at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum for a private tour, visited the St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, and Trinity Church Wall Street to remember September 11. 

The New York Landmarks Conservancy’s 13th annual Sacred Sites Open house is taking place on May 20-21, 2023. Dozens of houses of worship are opening their doors allowing visitors to explore architectural art and history through lectures, musical performances, and guided tours.

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