Church Now Buddhist Temple

Former Episcopal churches have been renovated for many different uses across the years, including as an Islamic Awareness Center (background), a congregation of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (background), and a Manhattan disco-turned-mall listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

A new documentary film (In God’s House: The Religious Landscape of Utica, New York) includes a segment on an Episcopal church that has become a Buddhist temple. Producer S. Brent Plate, who worked with photography professor Robert Knight, offers background for the weblog Religion in American History:

Our film documents many of the changes to the neighborhoods of Utica, and to the buildings that have housed differing populations of religious congregants. In many ways, the film charts in microcosm the larger demographic shifts of U.S. religious life, as wave after wave of immigrant groups settle and establish religious environments for social and spiritual support, and communal gathering.

The film documents several spaces and the ways they have transitioned over time: a Bosnian mosque operating in a converted Methodist church; Jewish synagogues, one Reform and one Conservative, now meeting under one roof due to economic pressures; an historic 1819 Baptist church revitalized through the welcoming of Burmese refugees; a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in a retrofitted Episcopalian church; and an African-American church in the midst of Utica’s former Jewish quarter.

The film’s website, including the film trailer, can be found here. We will be updating the website with screening dates for next year as we are currently working on finalizing schedules with several universities and film festivals.

Read the rest of Plate’s essay.

Image from In God’s House: The Religious Landscape of Utica, New York, via Vimeo

In God’s House: Quan Am Buddhist Temple from Robert Knight on Vimeo.

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