Though gentrification can affect neighborhood institutions in a multitude of ways, these institutions can serve as points of continuity in a changing landscape and provide a link between new and old residents.
Consider Shiloh Baptist Church. Located in the gentrified Graduate Hospital neighborhood, the church has served an African-American congregation since 1945. But recent changes to the neighborhood have brought in more wealthy and white occupants. According to its pastor, Rev. Edward Sparkman, most congregation members no longer live in the neighborhood.
Since the church opened its doors to newcomers by offering space for community meetings, theatrical performances, and other programming, older members have become more accepting of new residents. All the activity “makes the church feel alive again,” he said.
Gentrification in what once was a working-class, predominantly African-American area like Graduate Hospital looks different than change in other types of Philadelphia neighborhoods. Learn more about gentrification in Philadelphia here.
Music courtesy of the Shiloh Baptist Church choir.