Sacred Places Winter 2019 - Page 6

A Tale of Two Churches: Lancaster Churches Address Spiritual, Social, and Environmental Needs By John Hershey, RGS Associates and Ruth Ayn Hocker, Manager, Bureaus of Stormwater and Wastewater Collections, City of Lancaster T Arcade and courtyard at St. James Episcopal Church, Lancaster Photo: Marotta/Main Architects wo historic churches in Lancaster, Pennsylvania demonstrate how a sacred place can be maximized as a civic asset that advances the vitality and environmental health of the larger community. Saint James Episcopal Church and Community Mennonite Church are both serving their respective congregations while simultaneously providing their neighbors with social and environmental benefits. Established in 1744, Saint James Episcopal Church recently developed a 6 SACRED PLACES • WINTER 2019 master plan that prioritized facility needs, including a more welcoming approach to the building, expanded interior and exterior gathering spaces, and greater accessibility to all facilities. To accomplish these goals, a building addition and new courtyards were constructed in 2012, with a “green” infrastructure that captures storm water runoff from the expanded structure. Because Lancaster City is located within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, city fathers adopted measures established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to reduce and ultimately end the discharge of untreated sewage and other pollutants into local waterways via aging storm infrastructure. Even before these measures were adopted, a team of church leaders, the City’s progressive administration, and local design professionals began to proactively address these same clean water challenges.