The massive red brick SS. Cyril and Methodius Catholic church, Coaldale, one of 47 churches closed by the Allentown Diocese in July 2008, stands a little emptier today.
On Monday, trucks hauled away the pews, which have been sold to a church in Zachary, La. On Tuesday, workers for Beyer Studio Inc., a Philadelphia online auction house, painstakingly chipped away at the frames holding the vibrantly-hued stained glass windows at the front of the church, one of just three windows left.
They carefully carried the windows, in sections, down a narrow, winding flight of stairs and out into a truck, where they were wrapped in protective material for transport.
The windows and other religious artifacts must be used only for religious purposes.
Diocese spokesman Matt Kerr said proceeds from the sale of the pews will go to St. Katharine Drexel, in neighboring Lansford.
St. Katharine, housed in the former St. Michael Church on East Abbott Street, was formed by the merger of six churches in the two boroughs.
"We are starting the process to make some major repairs on the church. These funds will be used to help with that process," said St. Katharine's pastor, the Rev. Kenneth Medve. "After completing two engineering studies on the church building to determine what repairs are needed, we will be starting a feasibility study in January of 2014 (in consultation with Jim Friend, secretary for the Secretariat of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Allentown) and a capital campaign after that," he said.
"I am glad that the pews and other items that have been sold from the closed churches are going to parishes that might have limited means, but big plans to beautify God's house and lift their parishioners' hearts and minds in worship of our good Lord," Medve said.
SS. Cyril & Methodius parish was founded in 1920. The former church, built in 1960, is at 41 E. RuddleSt.
The diocese closed and merged the churches due to a projected shortage of priests. The diocese is selling as many of the closed churches as it can. Before the buildings can be sold, they must be stripped of any religious artifacts.
In the 2008 closings,St. John the Baptist,St. Mary's and SS. Cyril and Methodius in Coaldale and St. Michael's, St. Ann's and SS. Peter and Paul in Lansford, merged to become the new St. KatharineDrexel, at the former St. Michael Church building in Lansford.
The stained glasswindows from closed churches in the Allentown diocese can be seen at the Sacred Window RescueProject section of www.beyerstudio.com