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Calvert Church in Etna receives grant for work

By Tawnya Panizzi
Staff writer
Thursday, January 8, 2004

ETNA: A mammoth red door installed Monday at Calvert Memorial Church is a symbol of continued outreach for Pastor Cynthia Jackson.

The steel door, erected at the church basement, leads into the Bread of Life Food Bank — a volunteer organization that has grown over the past year from serving 25 to 155 families each month.

It was that commitment to community service that helped earn the church a $5,000 grant from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) to purchase the new door, which fits with the landmark’s mission of preserving old structures.

The church was one of 16 sites throughout Allegheny County chosen to receive a 2003 Historic Religious Properties grant.

“The metal door is just what we needed to be up to code,” Jackson said. “It is important that the church building be maintained so the mission of the church can continue.”

Founded in 1964, the PHLF is a nonprofit historic preservation group that identifies and preserves buildings, neighborhoods and landscapes of the county. The grant program, in its eighth year, assists properties that are architecturally significant and that provide social services in the neighborhood. For example, Calvert Memorial’s food pantry serves underprivileged residents with donations received from eight local parishes in the Lower Valley.

The grant program is funded by year-end gifts from landmarks members and trustees and the money is used for projects like restoring stained glass, roof repair, painting, and restoration of a church dome. Technical assistance also is provided to establish preventative maintenance programs.

Selected from among 34 applicants, this is the second consecutive grant for Calvert Memorial.

Cathy McCollom, Landmarks Director of Operations and Marketing, said the church fits hand-in-hand with the mission of the grant program.

“The quality of the construction and its historic significance are what we look at,” she said of the 94-year-old building.

“It is our goal, not necessarily to offer money to churches, but those housed in significant buildings.”

McCollom also lauded the church for providing an impressive host of services for the community members — despite dwindling membership.

“Seventy percent of people who go through church doors are not members of the congregation,” McCollom said. “They are there for after-school activities, a food pantry, exercise classes.”

With membership slipping from about 80 to 50 members over the past few years, Jackson refuses to allow the church to slip away as well, she said. It has become a reliable source of services for an increasing number of residents, by offering everything from a summer reading program and job link center to tutoring and computer classes.

“While the church membership has decreased, the number of people we’re serving has increased,” Jackson said. “If the church doesn’t care about needs of people in Etna who are living in poverty, I don’t know who else is going to.”

Tawnya Panizzi can be reached at or (412) 782-2192.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633