Pittsburgh congregation closes as economy improves

by Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

Greensburg Worship Center
Greensburg Worship Center at its Grand Opening in November of 2010. Photo by Tim Moyer.

Greensburg Worship Center has closed its doors as of December 2013.  Greensburg, which joined the conference in 2010, was a predominantly Indonesian congregation located in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.

“Greensburg closed for similar reasons that it opened—the economic migration of Indonesian immigrants due to employment opportunities elsewhere,” explained Steve Kriss, Greensburg’s LEADership Minister.  “The congregation grew at the height of the economic downturn, when there were more employment opportunities in Pittsburgh than in other areas.  As the economy recovered, individuals moved back to larger Indonesian communities on the east coast.”

Many of the people who were part of Greensburg congregation moved to Philadelphia and are actively participating in Nations Worship Center, a sister congregation.

It may be difficult for some in a conference community that includes established, centuries-old congregations to grasp the kind of fluidity that leads a congregation to close after only four years, but for congregations working mostly with individuals who have recently immigrated, the forces of the economy are felt more intensely.  “It’s possible these kinds of stories will become less unusual,” said Kriss.  “We celebrate the conference Indonesian community’s responsiveness to the increased presence of Indonesian immigrants in Pittsburgh and in facilitating transitions back to Philadelphia.”

Although Pittsburgh is beyond the geographic boundaries usually associated with Franconia Conference, the conference has a history of flexibility when it comes to church planting, equipping and supporting church plants by Franconia Conference members who have migrated elsewhere—even as far away as Mexico or Hawaii.  “Franconia Conference has a tradition of extending its ministry to where its people have gone,” said Kriss.  “It’s part of our missional, entrepreneurial, and pastoral DNA as a community.”