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Storefront church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Greek Orthodox Church, between a restaurant and a hardware store in an ethnically mixed neighborhood in Queens, New York City
A storefront church in Auburn, Indiana, located in a building that was originally a supermarket.
Storefront church in England

A storefront church is a church, usually in the North American context of the United States, and to a much lesser extent, Canada, that is housed in a storefront or strip mall building that formerly had a commercial purpose.[1][2][3]

Often, the interior of a building of this kind was converted to ecclesiastical use simply by putting in chairs, pews, and a makeshift pulpit. Some storefront churches serves as a social and religious hub for an ethnic enclave. Many storefronts emerged in the urban centers of the Northern United States and were filled with poor former slaves leaving the harsh memories of their former lives behind. Today, many storefront churches are both religious houses of worship and centers of social development and free speech in many poor African American communities to express their feelings about the struggles and hardships they face every day in their lives, as well as churches for them to come together and worship and fellowship in. They also can provide a focal point for community unity and engagement.[3]

Storefronts are still very much a part of the Black church experience today; furthermore, the storefront church has also emerged within other cultures as well. A PBS report said “Storefront churches today are not just Black and urban. Many have recently been established in Latino- and Asian-dominated neighborhoods, as well as poorer rural communities, typically serving similar functions as the storefront churches in historically Black communities.”[1]

Storefront churches may still be found throughout the United States, among White and Latino neighborhoods as well as African American ones.

The former Gemini Lounge used by the Roy DeMeo Crew of the Gambino Crime Family became an African American Pentecostal storefront church in 1997 long after the building was abandoned by the crime family.[4][5]


  1. ^ a b "Let the Church Say Amen | Storefront Churches | Independent Lens | PBS". Independent Lens. Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  2. ^ "Storefront Churches: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara". National Building Museum. Archived from the original on 2015-03-29. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  3. ^ a b "Storefront Churches, Old and New". Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society. 2019-01-28. Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  4. ^ Laurence, Charles (October 20, 2002). "The hitman's son faces up to the sins of the father". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on July 22, 2017. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  5. ^ Calder, Rich (June 6, 2011). "It's church bada-bingo!". New York Post. Retrieved November 6, 2022.