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The Rev. Emily Hull McGee, pastor of First Baptist Church on Fifth, stands with her son Liam in the breezeway between two of the church buildings. The building on the left is slated for removal; it's part of an ambitious plan to tear down, rebuild and renovate the church's buildings in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photos by Alex Maness

A downtown church forges a new path when it decides to tear down two decaying buildings

The 146-year-old Baptist congregation hopes a smaller footprint will allow the church to redefine its mission and identity while saving its historic sanctuary.

Bread Church participants gather ingredients for an evening of baking and spiritual discussion.  Photos by Brian Diggs.

A struggling Texas church is slowly rising again, becoming leaven for the community

Despite years of decline and worries about the future, Austin's Memorial UMC is moving forward in ministry, with bread baking, ESL classes and a decidedly Wesleyan model of church focused not on themselves but on their neighbors.

Church services at Bethlehem Church

A small boy eyes the waters of baptism during worship at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photos by T.J. Hamilton/SaboPR

A Grand Rapids church chooses people over historic space

Eight years ago, a Grand Rapids congregation left its stately but deteriorating church for a plain, empty building in a tough part of town. Today, the risk has paid off with a smaller but committed congregation heavily involved in neighborhood ministry.

Artist's rendering of Sharon UMC renovation

This is an early concept rendering of the urban village that Sharon UMC leaders envision on their property in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Courtesy of Sharon UMC

Kyle Thompson: Ministry is more important than a building

The bishop challenged them to be bold, and the leaders of Sharon United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, took the message to heart. The church is proposing to tear down its building and redevelop its property as an urban village. In this Q&A, the pastor explains the church's plans.

In a 2010 production of Twelth Night, Curio Theater Company takes the stage in Philadelphia's Calvary UMC under an arrangement brokered by Arts in Sacred Places.
Photo by Kyle Cassidy

Making homes for the arts in sacred places

Arts groups need their space, and many older churches have plenty to spare. In a win-win for everyone, a Philadelphia nonprofit is pairing up theater, dance, music and other arts groups with congregations that have underused space.


Julia Groom: Buildings for a new tomorrow

At a time when the Episcopal Church and other denominations are closing churches, the Episcopal Church Building Fund has expanded its mission to help distressed congregations think in new ways about their buildings and the future of the church, says the fund president.

Students hard at work at St. James School, a faith-based Philadelphia middle school in the Episcopal tradition. Photos courtesy of Al Cassidy

School brings life to empty buildings

A decaying and empty Episcopal church complex became an asset to its poor Philadelphia neighborhood after church leaders saw its potential as a free school for needy children.

The congregation, started by Zimbabwean immigrants, has begun attracting neighbors to its community. The church provides office space for area nonprofits, built a playground for local children and hosts after-school programs. Photo by Lissa Gotwals

A church reborn

Six years after being given a dying church's building, Shepherd's House UMC, an African immigrant congregation in Durham, NC, is a beacon of renewal.