Local/State

Century old church in South Philly undergoes renovations

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A South Philadelphia church is undergoing urgent repairs and renovations as it nears its 100th anniversary.

The Assumption of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church sits on the corner of 28th Street and Snyder Avenue.

It was built by Carpathian-Russian immigrants nearly a century ago and the church will celebrate its 100th anniversary in October.

"We want to give this neighborhood something beautiful and show that we're alive," said Rev. Matthew Cantrell.

However the roof and ceiling of this building were in urgent need of repairs.

One of Reverend Cantrell's goals is to enhance the church's green space.

"It's really one of the only green areas in this entire neighborhood and so my hope is that we would have a garden. The weeds were up to my chest just a couple of days ago but now the mulch is all down," he said.

Inside the church building, the architecture is breathtaking. There are iconostas, ornately decorated with icons of the saints and forefathers of the Orthodox Church.

"These are some of the central icons of our church, icons that are very important to us," said Rev. Cantrell.

Saint Moses is also important to the Assumption of the Holy Virgin.

"We want to remind people that everyone is welcome to come to our church and this is just as much an African-American church as it is a white or Russian-American church," said Rev. Cantrell.

Volunteers, most of them teenagers, from Saint Mary's Orthodox Church in Coaldale and Holy Trinity in Stroudsburg, have been working this week to renovate and help re-establish this church in the neighborhood.

"It's about reaching out, it's about going outside of yourself, helping the little parishes struggling and in need of a little boost in the arm. I love doing it, it's a joy" said Rev. Daniel Matthewson.

The volunteers say until their work started, many neighbors didn't know what was here.

"It shows that this is a church and people will see it when they walk by and hopefully will come in," said Olivia Matthewson.

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philadelphia, south philadelphia, local/state, lisa thomas-laury
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