Migration Causing Pittsburgh Congregations to Dwindle

By Brandolph, Adam | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 2, 2011 | Go to article overview

Migration Causing Pittsburgh Congregations to Dwindle


Brandolph, Adam, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The enormous stones that make up West End AME Zion Church in Elliott look like clumps of burnt sand.

Years of soot stained the 124-year-old building, giving the Romanesque church located off the West End's main drag a distinguished look.

Eight-foot red doors welcome parishioners; a green and yellow Howard Hanna Real Estate sign welcomes potential buyers.

"The building is just too much for us to handle," said the Rev. Gerald D. Akrie, the church's pastor since 2004. "We've had some people move out of town, some newer members and younger families join. We're about averaging the same amount of people as the last seven years.

"It's just maintaining a building of that size has gotten to a place where it's more of a burden than anything else."

Church officials say the decades-long population shift from Pittsburgh to its suburbs and surrounding counties drained the city of many faithful churchgoers. Officials said the city's population decline left once-cherished and flourishing churches behind to languish in disrepair as congregations moved to newer quarters.

Suburbanization and "white flight" have caused attendance at urban churches to drop, said Stephen Merino, a research associate for Penn State University's Association of Religion Data Archives.

"Downtown churches have shrunk to where they got closed down or demolished, or they're now just tiny congregations that are just holding on for dear life," Merino said.

The exodus

In Pittsburgh, dozens of churches once supported a population of nearly 700,000 after the arrival of Czech, German, Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants in the early 20th century.

With the collapse of the steel industry, however, the city lost an estimated 250,000 people by 1980. From 40 percent to 50 percent of them were Catholic, said the Rev. Ron Lengwin, spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

"We lost a large number of people," Lengwin said. "And the population has continued to dwindle."

Marie Kopchinski, 72, once regularly attended services at St. Michael the Archangel along Pius Street in the South Side. The church closed in 1993 and then became Angel's Arms Condominiums.

"I grew up in that church. I think the whole neighborhood was sad to see it go," Kopchinski said. "Now, my home is my church. My Bible is my pastor."

On especially significant religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, she attends a church in White Oak with her family.

"Some of my friends went to other churches nearby, but even they say it's not the same," she said. "It's never the same when it's been your only church."

About 54 percent of people who claim a religion in Allegheny County identify themselves as Catholic, according to Penn State's Association of Religion Data Archives. Nineteen percent say they are mainline Protestant, 10 percent are evangelical Protestant and 6 percent are Hindu. The remaining 11 percent follow other faiths.

While Pittsburgh's population continued to decline in the 1980s and '90s -- falling almost 9 percent from 335,000 to 306,000 between 2000 and 2010, according to the Census Bureau -- the population in northern Allegheny County and southern Butler County grew. Cranberry, for example, increased by nearly 19 percent, from 23,625 in 2000 to 28,098 in 2010.

"The demand there is very heavy," said the Rev. Kris D. Stubna, diocesan secretary for Catholic education.

In 2008, St. Kilian Parish School in Mars became the first school to open in the diocese since 1964. A capital campaign is under way to raise $54 million to $60 million to build Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Cranberry to house 1,000 students.

"Most of our schools in that area have waiting lists," Stubna said. "We're moving to where our people are."

A strong job market coupled with public amenities, good housing stock and high-performing school districts are pushing population growth in northern Allegheny and southern Butler counties, said Susan Balla, executive director of The Chamber of Commerce Inc. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Migration Causing Pittsburgh Congregations to Dwindle
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.