Sunday, April 13, 2008

Holy Ghost Orthodox Christian Church - presentation of proposal for HUD housing

On the fast track to the Planning Commission is the controversial proposal for HUD housing for senior citizens on the property of the Holy Ghost Orthodox Christian Church located on the corner of Starr and Bridge Streets.

Information on the internal process of how the Church property came to a contentious vote during a meeting of the parishoners and other relevant background information can be found at this blog address:

I am not a member of Holy Ghost Church, however, my Mother was, and amongst the current parishoners are members of my family. I have deep respect, admiration, and love for the body of parishoners of Holy Ghost as well as Saint Michael's in Mont Clare. Utter dismay and anguish over this potential sale is proclaimed by those with whom I have spoken. There is no other way to say this. We are all family, and when one is hurt, we are all wounded.

Holy Ghost Church was born of a schism in the Greek Catholic Church.

Quoting from the Centennial Journal of Saint Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church, published in 1997, a Papal Decree eventually led to a "..period of unrest and division..", and the "..confusion and dispersion.." (caused among the members) "..often setting brother against brother, and husband against wife in many instances."(page 27) occured during the time period of the late 1930's.

Might the same be happening now?

According to the blog mentioned above, 42 parishoners voted to sell the parcel in the HUD project, and 38 voted against the sale with another approximately 102 not voting.

The presentation of this HUD project to Borough Council is not to bring a vote to Council floor, rather the primary intent behind such action, normally, is to put Council on notice of a possible new development in Phoenixville and for the developer and property owner to gauge reactions to the proposal.

I urge Council to consider a completely different approach on Tuesday night.

I urge Council Members to act outside the box and outside the scope of their authority on this issue.

I ask Council Members, not as members of a governing body, but as friendly concerned neighbors to privately suggest further discussion within Holy Ghost Church on the sale of this historical and blessed property with ALL the true owners of the former Reeves family parcel, the Church members themselves.

In this, the holy season of Easter in the Orthodox community, a rush to proceed due only to time constraints on the HUD application process may change forever the future of parish life in Holy Ghost Church.

The patience of Job is needed on this issue.

And, the wisdom of Solomon.


Karen said...

As is often said, everyone has an opinion, and if I haven't been obvious, I am in complete opposition to the proposal to the proposal for Holy Ghost Church property.

As a point of information, Council should be aware of the existence of a document providing for no sale of the property for 99 years. I believe the restriction is in year 70. Wouldn't the legality of a sale be in question?

This document recalls a recent attempt by the Library to build an addition into Reeves Park which was halted by a deed restriction placed by the Reeves family, in perpetuity, when the park was gifted to the borough.

Another fact which may have bearing on the outcome of this project is the history of at least one grave of a former female slave and possibly others in unknown locations on the Holy Ghost property.

In addition, generations of the area residents share the common knowledge that many stately trees on the property were shipped from Europe by the Reeves family, and certainly should be considered as having equal historical value.

I urge anyone with concerns regarding this proposal to attend Tuesday evening's 7 p.m. Borough Council meeting at Phoenixville Borough Hall, or contact your local Council Member directly.

Anonymous said...

A large concern for many was the manner in which the proposal was delivered ... instead of stating facts it seemed to promote the sale as the only way a new social center could be built for the baking ladies.

Also please note that many fear their membership at the parish, if they do not vote the way they were encouraged .. The ongoing requests to vote FOR THIS SALE were intimidating to many. Why can't HUD housing, be built on the Steel Mill property and other areas near Water Works etc. Why build on our Sacred Ground ?

God Bless you Karen for keeping the faith in our founders and benefactors vision for the property of Phoenix Park to remain historical, tranquil and spiritual for the intent of the Reeves and officers who signed the lease on behalf of our Orthodox Family in Christ to worship on for 99 years and another 99 years forever forward. Amen!

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Karen for keeping the residents of Phoenixville and surrounding areas abreast of what appears to be a very controversal issue.
Not being of a member of Holy Ghost but having had the opportunity to reflect on the series of events that have allowed this issue to reach borough council raises many questions. Hopefully some answers to these will be addressed by present borough council members upon hearing this proposal outlined Tuesday night. Of particular interest:
a) What was the process for obtaining land appraisal and competitive bids?? One would imagine a proposal in Phoenixville's historic district would garner far greater $$ (If HG was in position to sell)
b) What benefit does this proposal bring to Phoenixville's revitalized historic district?? As there would be NO Tax revenue generated as a result of this proposal all this effectively does
is devalue present real estate for existing businesses, whom likely do generate tax revenue to the borough.
c) Is there more to the story with respect to the developer. I understand he is recognized as a Fr. but public records reflect him as a Director and in some cases owner/benefactor of existing Section 8 housing (St. Peter's Place, Episcopal House, Majolica House, Jefferson House, St. Peter's Housing Development, Old Swedes Hosuing Development)

With much at stake here, aside from the tragic loss of historic property, this is a subject Borough Council should take a step back for very careful reflection upon.

Looking for answers!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for highlighting in a concise manner the many issues surrounding the proposed sale of this hallowed and sacred ground. As a member of this parish, I have observed the parishioners in utter shock over the proposed sale of this property. Most, if not all, are not aware of the origins of this proposal. The end result will either divide the parish community irreparably, or encourage us to come together as a family in the right way, to raise the necessary funds for the social center ourselves. I have heard it said that the existing social center is "a dump"; when I hear that, I am reminded of the fact that Jesus Christ himself chose to be born in a lowly manger, in a small village (I would imagine) not unlike the small town of Phoenixville, and not in a palace in a glorious city. I would urge Council to consider for a moment not only the wishes of a few, but the hopes and dreams and perseverance of many who sacrificed to place their stake in this land.

Anonymous said...

This property was purchased from the Reeves family. They trusted the people who bought their land to protect the property from any type of development that would impact the sanctity, peacefullness and beauty of this land. The Historical significance of a once Reeves Mansion Estate, the undergroud railroad that is below the property, the sacred burial of the young slave child should be taken into account before the modern day, development and profiteering goes forward. My forefather's sacrificed, scrimpted and saved to buy this land. It is spiritually painful to watch others who came years after the historical purchase, throw the sacrifices of these Pioneer families, into the gutter. Where is the Priest in all of this? Counting pennies???? Please save my land, our land, the few open spaces left in Phoenixville. My soul is crying out to all to help avoid the rape of this Garden of Eden.

Anonymous said...

The info in todays paper is not what we were told at the meeting of the church two weeks ago.

Mr Evans was reprenting to us all that Church Housing was interested the property and he had very specific designs of the bldg on each table, displayed and discussed as what it would look like on the corner.

The article contradicts this as it states a Federal group of another faith buying the land ????

Another item to note: The parish meeting in Feb 08 DID NOT outline any of this proposal to the parish, and it had been presented to the board elite and priest back in Nov-Dec of prior year. Why was it not presented then, at least to give people time to research the players and history or founders documents ?????

God Bless you all in this very difficult situation of a too close vote on an issue not on the up and up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the Holy Ghost Church for re-confirming that my decision to leave organized religion was a good choice.

Anonymous said...

How did it go tonight? It seems Skip Lawrence has a whold different take on the facts here. He needs to hear and report BOTH sides!!