Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places hopes to promote partnerships between congregations, artists, nonprofit cultural groups and even creative businesses in Detroit, Baltimore and Austin. The plan is to both preserve the presence of congregations in cities and spur neighborhood development.
The sounds of children playing once filled the gymnasium at the historic St. John-St. Luke Evangelical United Church of Christ in the city’s Eastern Market area.
But they faded as the size of the congregation there — over 1,300 strong in 1874 when the church was built — dwindled to just 50 today for the church now occupying the building.
Things are looking up for the church to find new use, and even new membership interest, however, thanks to a new space-sharing agreement between the church and two local performing arts groups.
ArtLab J and its fledgling contemporary modern dance company moved into St. John-St. Luke’s auxiliary building last summer, joining United Church of Christ performing arts outreach program Young Fenix Physical Theatre.