calendar June 22, 2010 in News

A Philly Story: Faith on the Avenue

An ongoing study of congregations along the eight miles of Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia examines the changing and growing role of religious communities in urban life.  The study by Dr. Katie Day of LTSP featured in Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership website offers interesting insights: Even though the city’s population has dwindled from its peak in 1950, the number of congregations along the Avenue has tripled over that time.  A small number of mainline congregations remain and thrive by adapting, Day says, while the former buildings of other mainline congregations have been revitalized by independent churches.  With everything from storefront outposts to megachurches, the Avenue offers a glimpse at how congregations are providing needed services and community cohesion, even as that role is overlooked by politicians, developers and even denominations.

The Rev. Dr. Katie Day is the Charles A. Scheiren professor of church and society at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. With photographer Edd Conboy and other members of the research team, she is studying the 100 or so congregations on Germantown Avenue.

Day hopes to better understand the way congregations function in the urban ecology, including the way they engage in culture, politics, street life and the economy. The project was funded primarily by a grant from the Louisville Institute.