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.
Yep, the ol’ trust clause is paying off. Way to go louisville sluggers, just keep on knocking em’ out of the park.
Just one of many sad examples of an institution in decline (the PCUSA) which has lost its bearings. When a church leaves the PC(USA) with its property in exchange for a payment to the presbytery, most presbyteries demand a reversionary clause by which the property reverts to the presbytery (with no payment to the congregation) if the congregation decides at some future time to become a non-denominational church or part of a denomination not deemed “Reformed.” When a presbytery sells a vacant church building built by Christians with the Lord’s money, there’s no reason not to record a covenant with the deed which would prevent the property from ever being used for a religious purpose which isn’t Christian. So presbyteries have no problem with a PC(USA) property becoming a Hindu temple or Muslim mosque but a non-denominational Christian church is a travesty which has to be anticipated and prohibited at all costs. Reminds me of a comment by some wag on this website a few months ago: “We in the PC(USA) keep shooting ourselves in the foot. The problem is we’re running out of feet.”
A Hindu and Buddhist temple now on churches that used to be maybe Christian, and what a turn around, 2 apostate organizations giving way to the Hindus and Buddhist’s both on their way to the Lake of Fire, Rev. 20 and 21. Could not have happened to the best of the best apostate organizations, the presbyterian used to be church usa, and the so called episcopal used to be church.
a) A presbytery releasing a property at a tiny fraction of the market value to allow some specific ministry to continue has a responsibility to ensure that those conditions are met. Otherwise, the responsible thing to do would have been to sell the property at market value so that the funds could be used elsewhere.
b) If selling a property at market value in order to secure the funds, there is no reason to place any excessive restrictions. There is no reason whatsoever to get in the way of the establishment of a mosque or a temple.
c) This transaction took place ten years ago. There are multiple Presbyterian churches within 3-4 miles of this property, which would greatly reduce any motivation to keep it.
You keep using the word “pagan” in these stories. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Regardless, keep up the great fearmongering.
i use the word sometimes myself, so did some research about it a while ago to make sure i was using it properly. when used in the context here and elsewhere on this website it tends to refer to the worship of idols. i was first introduced to the word about ten years ago, while accidentally attending a Presbyterian Church of America service in Fort Lauderdale. i had no idea at that time there were different ‘sects’ of Presbyterian churches. one of the PCA ministers there explained to me that the Presbyterian Church USA church down the street was “pagan”. from all indications that word was, and still is, appropriate.
“Otherwise, the responsible thing to do would have been to sell the property at market value so that the funds could be used elsewhere.”
Well there you again, Southeast acting like it belongs to the presbytery, what should have happened is that the closing church’s session would gift the building to another Christian church as I have seen done time and time again, or if selling it would support missions etc, not turning Presbyterian churches into trust holdings so that a bunch church bureaucrats can pad their jobs.
Where’s the money going, not to missions, because we don’t have many out there anymore, the PCA has more than we do. We are probably the only church outside of the episcopalians who could close every d@&% church in the country and still have a thriving bureaucracy.
Like it or not, congregations have agreed to abide by the Book of Order, aware that it says “All property … is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).” In any case, this particular congregation was dissolved.
The sad fact is that for every mosque or Buddhist temple in former PCUSA structures, there are 10, 20 restaurants or antique malls occupying former houses of worship. In each case there was a financial transaction between a buyer and seller in the open market. Some one got paid at the end of the day. In the current PCUSA in a dissolved or merged church, the bureaucracy, structure, over-head, management, staffing of the bureaucracy are the direct beneficiaries of these transactions. Now do good people keep up their churches, pay the bills, cut the grass for the sake of, or with the thought, “I am doing this to serve the PCUSA or Presbytery of X?” Of course not. Or do they give in the offering plate with the intent, “this is pay the staff of Presbytery X or that of Louisville” Of course not.
But such the context and structure of the PCUSA. The counsel applies, if you do not want these type of outcomes in your church, flee, leave the organization, and find a fellowship or house of worship that honors your faith. you intent, that treats your labors and money with respect and honor. Starve the beast, the beast will indeed die.
This is perhaps one of the most bizarre obsessions that The Layman has ever had. Really now… this is just crazy.
You comment frequently on property/trust clause issues, Southeast, and regular readers understand that you’re a trust clause absolutist. The trust clause says what it says and that’s the end of the discussion, period, end of subject. There are several problems with your black and white perspective:
1. Courts in half of the 50 states recognize the injustice of a trust clause such as the clause declared by the PC(USA) and the Episcopalians and the courts refuse to enforce it. So clearly, Southeast, secular courts which don’t have the biases you and I have don’t regard the issue as open-and-shut as you do.
2. As an expression of interfaith comity, I suppose I don’t have a problem with a presbytery managing its property affairs in such a way that buildings end up owned and used by non-Christian religions. But basic fairness dictates that presbyteries stop demanding reversionary clauses that return the property to the presbytery if the congregation decides years later to become a non-denominational church. There’s no good reason for a presbytery to treat fellow Christians more harshly than Hindus and Muslims.
3. Presbyterians and Episcopalians will just have to struggle with their trust clause issues until the major realignments in those denominations are over. Episcopalians have demonstrated that strict enforcement of the trust clause is a financial disaster for the denomination. Episcopalians have even been so foolhardy as to take congregations to court in states which don’t recognize the validity of the trust clause where the congregations are certain to win. Fortunately presbyteries, with a few equally foolhardy exceptions, have been wiser to work out agreements that presbyteries and congregations can live with thereby avoiding unnecessary expense and a bad witness to the world. The only silver lining in all this for congregations is that the behavior of presbyteries and Episcopalians in this era marks the death knell of this kind of “connectionalism.” Never again will Christians put the Lord’s money into buildings owned by some denomination. So enjoy your infatuation with the trust clause while it lasts, Southeast, because it’s headed for a blessed extinction.
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