New York's elite churches struggle with recession

Endowments hit hard
More than a century ago, when Fifth Avenue was lined with mansions, its houses of worship were built, supported and populated by Vanderbilts, Astors and Belmonts.

It was, in the words of the late Kate Simon in her 1978 book, Fifth Avenue: A Very Social History, “a village of the greatest wealth and financial power in the world, the might reflected . . . by the companion churches.”

While Fifth Avenue morphed into New York’s toniest shopping district— home to Hermes, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s—the landmark sanctuaries endured, and they’re now coping with the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The problem is that the A-list families that once packed the pews and padded the budgets are long gone.

 

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