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Sacred Spaces: Building Communities of Faith Exhibition

May 25, 2015 8:30 am
Presbyterian Historical Society Lobby
Sunday school minister Reverend Herbert M. Peters holding services for lumberjacks, ca 1951. (Image ID: 4098)

We often associate worship spaces with gothic cathedrals, steeples, bell towers, and stained glass windows. But throughout history, the need for traditional worship spaces has been challenged—both out of necessity and in an effort to seek a more intimate connection with God. Many church communities began in temporary, makeshift dwellings, private homes, or in “the open air” for lack of anything more suitable.

The erection of churches has been linked to the missionary enterprise since the founding of Presbyterianism in America. While the national church could offer little financial resources to help small communities build new church structures, it extended its reach by enlisting Sunday school ministers and mobile ministers, who traveled the country to find communities in need. Mobile ministers have found success among diverse communities across the country—lumberjacks in the Pacific Northwest, cowboys and ranchers in the Southwest, and the dispossessed youth of Watts, California are just a few examples. Their ministry often led to the erection of the first Presbyterian church building, which the minister built alongside residents.

Before a permanent church structure could be erected, these communities found imaginative and resourceful ways to create sacred spaces. Learn about them in our newest in-house exhibit, now on view through Spring 2015.

425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147