A former Presbyterian church in Scranton, Pa., is now a Hindu temple.
The home of a former Episcopalian congregation in Binghamton, N.Y., belongs to a Muslim group and is used as an Islamic Awareness Center.
And just this spring a Buddhist group that purchased a former Presbyterian church building in St. Petersburg, Fla., from a presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) completed renovations to add a pagoda-style temple.
Chua Phat Phap Buddhist Temple dedicated its new facility, built at a cost of $1 million, in April. In doing so, the former Meadowlawn Presbyterian Church that housed the temple since its purchase by the Theravada Buddhist Sangha Vietnamese congregation in 2004 was converted into a social hall.
The conversion of the Meadowlawn property is just another example of church buildings once consecrated to Christ and paid for by Christians being used for various forms of pagan worship.
Like the Hindu temple in Scranton and the Islamic Awareness Center in Binghamton, a shuttered Presbyterian church was transformed into the Chua Phat Phap temple by the Buddhist congregation.
Property records from Pinellas County show that the Meadowlawn property was purchased in April 2004 for $625,000 from the Presbytery of Tampa Bay by Southwest Florida Buddhist, Inc.
Constructed in 1959, the Meadowlawn building was one of two Presbyterian churches in the area to close because of declining membership along with Covenant Presbyterian Church and had a property value of $909,156.
According to a story from the St. Petersburg Times, flagpoles flying America, South Vietnamese and Buddhist flags along with giant statues of lions standing guard, gongs and drums were added as part of the Christian church’s transformation into a Buddhist temple. Crosses also were removed from the church.
In the former chancel area of the church – where a pulpit, communion table and lectern would have been – was a huge bronze Buddha, and the main portion of the sanctuary had altars for candles and offerings.
A story from the newspaper in February 2014 explained the construction of the new pagoda-style temple and conversion of the former Presbyterian church, again noting the giant Buddha statue used as a centerpiece inside as well as others used in streetside gardens.
Attention to East Asian architecture in construction of the temple was a departure from the former church sanctuary and its Western culture.
A nontheistic religion, Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices that derived from the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha or “the awakened one,” who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.
Buddhism explains a purpose to life, explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness.
It has approximately 300 million adherents worldwide and is regarded as one of the fastest growing religions in the world. Its teaching or way of life can be summed up as leading a moral life, being mindful of thoughts and actions, and development of wisdom and understanding. The basic concepts of Buddhism include the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.