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Russian Orthodox ChurchMany of Erie’s churches and places of worship are the result of the ethnic groups that immigrated to the area. Catholic churches such as St. Stanislaus (Polish), St. Patrick (Irish) and St. Paul (Italian) are rooted where their respective congregations lived. Erie’s Jewish community formed Temple Anshe Hesed in 1846. Meeting the needs of a small Greek community called for the establishment of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church around 1917. Russian Old Believers began their own community, Church of the Nativity, in 1916.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie is the largest geographic diocese in Pennsylvania, serving 13 counties and 222,000 Catholics. Catholics have the option of 40 parishes in Erie County. Ten bishops have led the diocese through its 160 years of existence, with Bishop Lawrence Persico serving as its current shepherd. The diocese also has an extensive Catholic elementary and secondary school system, including 16 Catholic schools in Erie County. Gannon University and Mercyhurst University offer a faith-based college education to students from both Erie and afar.

Bishop Sean Rowe leads the Episcopal Diocese of North-western Pennsylvania and the 33 congregations within its own 13-county territory. He has worked to revitalize congregations through outreach, evangelization and youth ministry. The diocese annually holds a popular summer camp, and invites youth from all faiths and walks of life to join in prayer and fellowship throughout the week. The diocese’s mother church is the Cathedral of St. Paul, which counts a food pantry and Sunday dinner program among its ministries to the community.

Erie’s African American community has a variety of worship spaces to choose from. The city’s oldest African-American church, St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church, was established in 1874 with 10 people. The church building was located on East 7th Street until the 1980s, when the congregation moved to its current location on East 11th Street. St. James AME recently chartered a Cub Scout pack, Erie’s only inner-city Boy Scout group, as part of its community outreach efforts. Bishop Dwayne Brock and his Word of Faith Development Corporation work to bring out the best in the people who make up its congregation.

Other churches, places of worship and faith communities, such as New Apostolic Church, the Islamic Cultural Center and Erie First Assembly of God, are patches in the quilt, which represents Erie’s religious life. While everyone holds different beliefs and worships in various faith traditions, the diversity brings out the best in a community. Working together in faith makes Erie unique.
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