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Judson Memorial Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2017 Cohort

Judson Memorial Church

(United Church of Christ/Alliance of Baptists)

New York, New York

Judson Memorial Church in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan was established as part of the institutional church movement, which called for churches to be used seven days a week for community-serving purposes in addition to religious worship.

Judson Memorial Church by Roy Atwood

Judson Memorial Church by Roy Atwood

2017 Cohort

Judson Memorial Church

(United Church of Christ/Alliance of Baptists)

New York, New York

Judson Memorial Church in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan was established as part of the institutional church movement, which called for churches to be used seven days a week for community-serving purposes in addition to religious worship.

In 1890, Rev. Edward Judson initiated the construction of the church as a memorial to his father, Adoniram Judson, who was the first American Protestant foreign minister to Myanmar (Burma) and was buried at sea. Notable architect Stanford White of the firm McKim, Mead & White designed the church in the Italianate style using classical forms he had seen on his European travels. The church’s architecture aligned with Rev. Judson’s vision of appealing to both the Italian immigrants and the upper-class New Yorkers who lived in the surrounding neighborhoods. Along with the Washington Arch, also designed by White, Judson Memorial Church has become a defining feature of Washington Square Park.

According to the congregation, Judson “has long been recognized as a center for both social justice and the arts.” Keeping with the spirit of the institutional church movement, nonsectarian activities occur every day of the week. Programs include weekly performances, an artistic practice space, a meeting space for social justice groups, and an off-Broadway theater called The Gym. Judson was one of three congregations that founded the NYC Coalition, a branch of the national New Sanctuary Movement, which calls attention to the plight of immigrants without any path to legal residency in the United States. The church serves as a physical sanctuary that provides long-term housing in the church building to undocumented immigrants facing deportation, and the congregation runs a free legal clinic that serves about 50 immigrants each week.

A $250,000 National Fund grant with $500,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation allowed Judson to complete its roof replacement project. The work required removing the newer asphalt tile roof and installing a curved red clay tile roof consistent with White’s original design. The project also involved repairing the roof drainage system to prevent ongoing leaks into the church walls. The congregation views this project as “a clear signal that Judson intends to stay right where we are, serving the larger community, for at least another century” in a city where churches remain a main development target.

Judson Memorial Church by Roy Atwood

Judson Memorial Church: A Convergence of Arts and Service

Judson Memorial Church has always been dedicated to the diverse communities of New York City, and, thanks to the National Fund for Sacred Places it hopes to continue with its mission and expand its reach for years to come.

Judson Memorial Church by Roy Atwood

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

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