Phoenix Place and Parkdale United Church, King St. West & Dunn Ave., SE corner, summer 2002.


 
 
 
 
 
look at both postcards at once

THERE'S STILL A CHURCH HERE, tucked into the bottom of an apartment tower built in 1976 for low income residents and pensioners after Parkdale United was demolished. Some of the stained glass from the old church has been preserved in the new church, which the uncharitable might call a chapel. Small as it is, Parkdale United holds just one service a week here, and shares the space with Korean Baptist and Seventh Day Adventist congregations.

Demography, and the decline of churchgoing, especially among traditional Protestants, conspired against Parkdale United over the last half of the 20th century. Holy Family, just down the street from Parkdale United, has thrived as immigration has made Parkdale even more specifically Catholic, while evangelical churches, of both the urban storefront variety and the larger, suburban "prayer palaces", have whittled away the devout from the core of the United Church.

While it's sad that Parkdale United's grand old building disappeared from the face of the neighbourhood, you can't argue with the church's decision to leverage their real estate holdings and capital into scarce and much-needed affordable housing. Given the choice between an empty, decaying church building and homes for people who need them, it's clear enough which is the Christian choice.