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Churches are Essential Revisited

By Gary F. Zeolla


      Former churches are ending up on the real estate market — and ultimately being repurposed as restaurants, wineries, residences and more — as congregations shrink and churches close.

      According to a 2022 study by the Pew Research Center, 57% of Americans did not attend church or watch a religious service online. In a 2019 Gallup poll, 53% of participants said they did not belong to a church or synagogue.

      At least 33 former religious buildings were on the real estate market in Pennsylvania as recently as this month, with 10 such buildings available in Allegheny County [where Pittsburgh is located] (Trib Live. Former).


      The potential owners of the former Holy Martyrs Church in Tarentum are moving forward with their original plan to open a fitness center inside the shuttered facility and build a practice field alongside it….

      Legends of Pittsburgh is expected to move from the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer to the 51-year-old church building at 344 W. Ninth Ave. after the sale closes in December [2023]….

      Holy Martyrs was among five churches in Guardian Angels Parish shuttered last year by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh (Trib Live. Legends).


Two Catholic churches will be combined into a new parish in 2024, [Pittsburgh] diocesan officials announced Saturday [11/25/23]….

The merger will bring the number of diocesan parishes from 61 to 60. In 2020, there were 152 parishes, which were trimmed to 106 by similar parish mergers, diocesan records show (Trib Live. Pittsburgh).


Sad Trend


The above three quotations are from Trib Live, the website for three Pittsburgh, PA area newspapers, including this writer’s hometown paper. These stories all appeared on the website on the same day, November 27, 2023. That is when I decided to write this article, as these stories break my heart.

This trend is exactly what I feared when I wrote my article Churches are Essential back in September of 2020. Church attendance had been dropping for years, but the medically useless and destructive lockdowns accelerated that trend.

      In fact, I would say this was exactly why the left pushed those lockdowns, especially of churches—to get people out of the habit of going to church, in hopes they would not resume doing so when the lockdowns ended. Sadly, and tragically, that dastardly plan worked. I say “sadly” as this is why I called for churches to open back then. It just breaks my heart anytime I read articles like the preceding.

      The second one hits home, as I competed at a contest at that gym in its current location back in September of 2019 (see RPS 5th Set Black – 2019). But I just cannot imagine competing in a church turned gym. It would seem so weird.

      As much as I support people working out and competing in fitness-related contests, the importance of doing so pales in comparison to the importance of church attendance. But sadly, Sunday mornings now see more cars in gym parking lots than in church parking lots, hence the sad trend of churches being converted into gyms.


      “For bodily exercise is beneficial for a few [things], but godliness is beneficial for all [things], having promise of the present life and of the coming [life]” (1Timothy 4:8).


Tragic Trend


      I say “tragically” about these church closures, as many of the problems we are seeing in America today can be directly related to that lack of church attendance and the resultant loss of Americans having any knowledge of the Bible and of the Christian worldview. Among these growing problems are:


smash and grab robberies, car-jackings, porch pirates, cyber-attacks, identity theft, disrespect for the property of others, theft in general, random acts of violence, senseless killings, murder, mass killings, disrespect for human life in general, mob actions, riots, a divided American, public discord, political incivility, antisemitism, racism, race-baiting, majority of young people supporting the eradication of Israel, support for the terrorist group Hamas, loss of the presumption of innocence, of respect for the rule of law, and right to due process, lack of punishment for evildoers, corruption of government officials, sexual sins of all types and acceptance thereof (premarital, extramarital, and homosexual sex), loss of respect for marriage, changed definition of marriage, lack of desire of young Americans to have children, support for the killing of unborn babies, influence of the sinful and destructive LGBTQ movement, sexual confusion among young people, sexual mutilation of children, disrespect for parents and authority figures, lying with impunity, dissatisfaction with life, loneliness, mental health problems, youth suicide, and a lack of a day of rest leading to undo stress and health problems.


    I could comment at length on each of these growing problems. However, I do not need to do so here, as I have already done so for most of these points in my books, articles, and Commentaries listed in the References.


Person on the Street Quiz on the Bible


      Preacher Chuck Swindoll had an interesting introduction to his  sermon posted to the Bott Radio app on December 13, 2023. He referred to “Person on the Street” interviews by Jay Leno during “The Week of the Bible.” And what those interviews showed was that average Americans are woefully Biblically illiterate.

      This was obviously an older sermon even though it was only recently posted to Swindoll’s “Insight for Living” podcast on the Bott app, as Jay hosted The Tonight Show from May 25, 1992 to May 29, 2009 and again from March 1, 2010 to February 6, 2014 (Wikipedia).

      I am sure Biblical illiteracy has only grown since then. But still, it is disturbing that even back then, the majority of Americans could not answer the following basic questions about the Bible.


1.       Did Adam and Eve have any children?

2.       Name the two brothers, Cain and ____?

3.       What happened to Lot’s wife?

4.       Which two cities were destroyed according to the Book of Genesis? Sodom and _____?

5.       How many Commandments are there?

6.       Name four Commandments.


      I do hope the readers of this newsletter are able to answer most if not all of these six questions. All of them come from the Books of Genesis or Exodus. These are the first two books of the Bible, and they are foundational to the Biblical worldview. As such, knowledge of them is vital.

      If you’ve never read them or haven’t read them recently, I would strongly urge you to do so. They are found in my translation of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).


Pertinent Genesis and Exodus Verses


      The  reason knowledge of just these two Bible books is vital is they contain passages that if understood, believed, and followed, they would keep the person from engaging in any of the problematic behaviors listed above or holding any of the problematic attitudes. Consider the following verses. I’ve also included the answers to the above questions, just in case the reader missed one.


From Genesis:

      In [the] beginning, God made the heaven and the earth (1:1).


            26And God said, “Let Us make humanity according to Our image and according to [Our] likeness, and let them be ruling [over] the fish of the sea and the birds [or, flying creatures] of heaven and the livestock and all the earth and all the reptiles [or, quadrupeds], the ones walking upon the earth.” 27And God made humanity, according to [the] image of God, He made him, male and female He made them. [cp. Matt 19:4; Jam 3:9] 28And God blessed them, saying, “Be increasing, and be being multiplied, and fill the earth and exercise lordship over [or, subdue] it, and rule [over] the fish of the seas and the birds [or, flying creatures] of heaven and all the livestock and all of the earth and all the reptiles [or, quadrupeds] walking upon the earth” (1:26-28).


      And the heavens and the earth were finished, and the whole world of them. 2And God finished on the sixth day His works which He made, and He rested on the seventh day from all His works which He made. [Heb 4:4] 3And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His works which God began to do. [see Heb 4:10] (2:1-3).


      18And the LORD God said, “[It is] not good [for] the man to be alone. Let Us make for him a helper according to him [fig., suitable for him]” (2:18).


            24For this reason, a man will leave his father and his mother and will be joined to [or, united with] his wife, and they will be—the two—into one flesh. [or, the two will become one flesh ] (2:24).


      Now Adam knew [sexually] Eve his wife, and having conceived, she gave birth to Cain [“possession”] and said, “I have acquired a man through GOD.” 2And she added to [Cain] to give birth to his brother Abel [“vapor”] (4:1-2a).


            4Now it happened, the days of Adam after he fathered Seth were seven hundred [Heb., eight hundred] years, and he fathered sons and daughters (5:4).


            6The one shedding [the] blood of a person, in place of that blood will his be shed, for in [the] image of God I made humanity. 7But you*, be increasing and be being multiplied, and fill the earth, and be being multiplied upon it” (9:6).


      And all the earth was one lip [fig., speech], and there was one language to all…. 8And the LORD scattered them from there over [the] face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city and the tower. 9Because of this, its name was called Confusion [Heb., Babel], because there the LORD confused the lips [fig., languages] of all the earth and from there the LORD God scattered them upon [the] face of all the earth (11:1,8-9).


      And the LORD said to Abram, “Go out from your land and from your relatives and out of the house of your father into the land which I will show to you. [Acts 7:3] 2And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you and magnify your name, and you will be blessed. 3And I will bless the ones blessing you, and I will curse the ones cursing you, and in you all the tribes of the earth will be blessed” (12:1-3).


      14Then GOD said to Abram after to be separated Lot from him, “Having looked up with your eyes, see from the place where you now are towards north and south and east and sea [fig., west] (13:14).


            7And I will establish My covenant between Me and between you and between your seed after you, to their generations, for an eternal covenant, to be your God, and [the God] of your seed after you. 8And I will give to you and to your seed after you the land [in] which you are living as a stranger, [even] all the land of Canaan for an eternal possession, and I Myself will be to them God” (17:7-8).


            20So the LORD said, “[The] outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah has been multiplied, and their sins are exceedingly great (18:20).


      23The sun was risen upon the earth, when Lot entered into Zoar. 24And the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone [or, sulfur] and fire from the LORD out of heaven. 25And He overthrew these cities and all the surrounding country and all the ones dwelling in the cities and all the [plants] rising out of the ground. [cp. Luke 17:28,29; 2Pet 2:6] 26And his wife looked into the behind [or, back], and she became a pillar of salt. [cp. Luke 17:32] (19:23-26).


      And the LORD visited Sarah just as He said, and the LORD did to Sarah just as He spoke. 2And Sarah having conceived, bore to Abraham a son in his old age, at the appointed time according to [as] the Lord spoke to him. [see Heb 11:11] 3And Abraham called the name of his son, the one become [fig., who was born] to him, whom Sarah gave birth to him, Isaac (21:1-3).


      19After this Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the Double Cave of the field, which is in front of Mambre, this is Hebron in the land of Canaan. 20So the field and the cave which was in it were confirmed to Abraham for possession of a burial place, by the sons of Chet (23:19-20).


            21But Isaac was imploring the LORD concerning Rebecca his wife, because she was barren; then GOD heard him, and his wife Rebecca received in [her] womb [fig., conceived] (25:21).


      1Now Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she gave birth to Jacob, went out to observe the daughters of the inhabitants. 2And Shechem [LXX, Sychem] the son of Hamor [LXX, Emmor] the Hivite [LXX, Evite], the ruler of the land, saw her and took her and slept [sexually] with her and humbled her. 3And he paid close attention to [or, was attracted to] the soul of Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman, and he spoke according to the mind of [fig., spoke kindly to] the young woman by herself.” 4So Shechem spoke to Hamor his father, saying, “Take for me this young woman for a wife.” 5Now Jacob heard that the son of Hamor defiled Dinah his daughter (34:1-5a).


      9Then God appeared to Jacob yet [again] in Luz, when he came out of Mesopotamia of Syria, and God blessed him. 10And God said to him, “Your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel will be your name. [Heb., +And He called his name Israel.] 11Then God said to him, “I [am] your God [Heb., “I [am] God Almighty]; be increasing and be being multiplied; nations and gatherings of nations will be out of you, and kings will come out of your reproductive organs. 12And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I have given it to you; and it will be, and to your seed after you I will give this land.” 13Then God went up from him from the place where he spoke with him (35:9-13).


            4So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me;” and they came near; and he said, “I am your* brother Joseph, whom you* sold into Egypt. 5Now then stop being grieved, nor let it appear hard to you that you* sold me here, for God sent me before you* for life (45:4-5).


      3And Jacob said to Joseph, “My God appeared to me in Luz, in [the] land of Canaan, and blessed me, 4and said to me, ‘Listen! I will increase you, and multiply you, and will make of you an assembly [fig., multitudes] of nations; and I will give this land to you, and to your seed after you, for an everlasting possession (48:3-4).


      8Then Israel having seen the sons of Joseph, said, “Who [are] these to you?”  9Then Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God gave to me here” (48:8-9).


            20You* intended for evil against me, but God intended for good concerning me, that it shall become as [it is] today, that many people should be sustained continually. [cp. Rom 8:28] (49:20).


      24And Joseph spoke to his brothers, saying, I am dying, and God will visit you* a visitation [fig., will surely visit you*] and will bring you* out of this land to the land which God swore an oath to our fathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob” (50:24).



The Ten Commandments:

      And the Lord spoke all these words, saying: 2I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of [the] land of Egypt, out of [the] house of servitude.


3“Different gods will not be to you besides Me [fig., You will have no other gods beside Me].


4“You will not make to yourself an idol, nor likeness of anything, as many [thing] as [are] in the heaven above, and as many things as [are] in the earth beneath, and as many thing as [are] in the waters under the earth. 5You will not prostrate yourself in worship to them, nor serve them; for I am the LORD your God, a jealous God, recompensing [the] sins of [the] fathers upon [the] children, until [the] third and fourth generation to the ones hating Me, 6and making [or, showing] mercy to thousands, to the ones loving Me, and to the ones keeping My commandments.


7“You will not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD your God shall not cleanse [or, acquit] the one taking His name in vain [i.e., in a disrespectable or blasphemous way].


8“Remember the Sabbath day to be keeping it holy. 9Six days you will labor and will do all your work. 10But the seventh day [is the] Sabbath to the LORD your God; you will not do any work in it, you and your son and your daughter and your male bond-servant and your female bond-servant, and your ox and your donkey and any of your livestock, and the stranger, the one living as a stranger among you. 11For in six days the LORD made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the [things] in them [Acts 4:24], He and rested on the seventh day. Because of this, the LORD blessed the seventh day and made it holy. [cp, Luke 23:56]


12“Be honoring your father and your mother, that it may become well with you, and that you shall become long- lived on the good land, which the LORD your God gives to you. [Matt 15:4; Eph 6:2,3]


13“You will not murder. [Matt 5:21; Jam 2:11]


14“You will not commit adultery. [Matt 5:27; Jam 2:11]


15“You will not steal. [Mark 10:19]


16“You will not give false testimony against your neighbor, [giving] false testimony. [Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19]


17“You will not covet  [or, yearn to possess] the wife of your neighbor; you will not covet the house of your neighbor; nor his field, nor his male bond-servant, nor his female bond-servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any of his livestock, nor as many things as are to your neighbor. [Rom 7:7; 13:9] (Exodus 20:1-17).


Additional Verses from Exodus:

        12“Now if anyone should strike another and he should die, by death let him be put to death [fig., let him certainly be put to death]. 13But the one not [doing it] willingly, but God delivered [him] into his hands, I will give you a place where the one having killed will flee there. 14But if anyone should lie in wait for his neighbor to kill him by treachery, and he should take refuge, you will take him from My altar to put [him] to death .

        15“Whoever strikes his father or his mother, by death, let him be put to death [fig., let him certainly be put to death]. 16Whoever shall steal [or, kidnap] anyone of the sons [and daughters] of Israel, and having exploited him, should sell [him], and he be found with him, by death he will die [fig., let him certainly die].  17The one speaking evil of his father or his mother will die by death [fig., shall surely die]. [Matt 15:4; Mark 7:10]

        18“Now if two men revile each other and strike [the] one the other with a stone or [his] fist, and he shall not die, but be laid upon his bed, 19if the man arise and walk about outside upon his staff, the one having struck him will be innocent; only he will pay for his loss of time and for his healing (21:12-18).


        9“According to every alleged injury [or, crime], both concerning a calf and a donkey, and a sheep and a garment, and every loss of the one accusing, whatever it should be, the judgment of both shall come before God, and the one being convicted by God will repay to his neighbor double (22:9).


       16“Now if anyone deceives [fig., seduces] a virgin [who is] not betrothed and sleeps with her, he will pay the bridal price, a dowry, for her [to be] a wife to himself. (22:16)


        22“Now if two men are fighting and strike a woman having in [the] womb [fig., who is pregnant], and her child comes out not having been fully formed [fig., is born prematurely], he shall be punished with a punishment [fig. be forced to pay a penalty]; as the husband of the woman shall lay upon [him], he shall pay what is worthy. 23But if [the child] having been fully formed was [harmed], he will give life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, [Matt 5:38] 25burning for burning, wound for wound, bruise for bruise (21:22-23).


          28“You will not revile the gods [or, judges], nor speak evil of the ruler of your people. [Acts 23:5] (22:28).


         “You will not accept a worthless [or, false] report; you will not agree with the unjust [person] to become an unjust witness. 2You will not be [fig., associate] with the multitude for evil; you will not be joined with a multitude to turn aside with [the] majority so as to deviate judgment [or, justice]. 3And you will not have mercy [fig., show partiality to] a poor [person] in judgment (23:1-3).


         6You will not pervert the judgment [or, sentence] of the poor in his judgment [or, trial]. 7You will abstain from every unjust thing; an innocent and righteous [person] you will not put to death, and you will not justify the ungodly [person] for gifts. 8And you will not receive gifts [or, bribes]; for gifts blind [the] eyes of [the] seeing, and corrupt just words (23:6-8).


          22“If hearing you* will hear [fig., If you* will indeed hear] My voice, and you will do all, as many [things] as I shall command you, and keep My covenant, you* will be to Me a chosen [or, special] people above all nations, for the whole earth is Mine; but you* will be to Me a royal priesthood, and a holy nation; these words will you* speak to the sons [and daughters] of Israel. If hearing you* will hear [fig., you* shall indeed hear] My voice, and do all, as many things as I shall tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be opposed to the ones opposing you (23:.22).




      I've quoted from these two Bible books extensively to show that even the earliest books of the Bible are still relevant today. With 66 books in the Bible, I could multiply such quotes 32-fold.

      The import of most of the verses from Genesis in regard to the listed problematic behaviors and attitudes should be obvious, as should the Ten Commandments and the other verses from Exodus. I could comment at length on each of these verses. However, I do not need to do so here, as I have already done so for most of them in my books and articles listed in the References.

      But here, widespread knowledge of these verses and their implications would go a long way towards lessening the preceding problems. And it used to be at church that Americans would hear such verses being read and expounded upon. In addition, regular church attendance provides the fellowship and sense of belonging that would help to alleviate the loneliness and lack of purpose many feel today.

    But now, with a majority of Americans, especially younger Americans, no longer attending church, such problems will continue to grow, unless there is a revival of church attendance and of the knowledge of the Word of God in the USA. You wont see this reason and solution given in the articles listed under “Other” in the References. But lack of church attendance and resultant Biblical illiteracy is at the root of all of the listed problems, and a revival of the same is the only solution that will make a true and lasting difference.

The LORD Has It Under Control
What the Bible Teaches About the Sovereignty of God

This book is for the person struggling in life and for the person struggling with how God sovereignly works in people’s lives. It goes through the Bible more or less in order. Along the way, I relate examples of how I believe the sovereignty of God has been operating in my life, in hopes that my experiences will help the reader to apply the principles to your life. It also addresses the question of the relationship of God’s sovereignty to the human will or volition.



Scripture taken from:

      The Analytical-Literal Translation of the Old Testament: Volume I: The Torah. Copyright 2012, 2023 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).

      The Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament: Third Edition. Copyright 2023 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.zeolla.org/christian). Previously copyrighted 1999, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2012 by Gary F. Zeolla.


My Books:

    Alleged Corruption, Bias, and Fraud: Allegations of the Corruption of Joe Biden, Bias of the Media and Big Tech, and Fraud in the 2020 Election

    God’s Sex Plan: Volume One: What the Old Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality.

    Scripture Workbook: Third Edition, For Personal and Group Bible Study and Teaching the Bible.

    Tearing the USA Apart: From Kavanaugh, to Incivility, to Caravans, to Violence, to the 2018 Midterm Elections, and Beyond.

    The Biased J6 Select Committee: The Public Hearings Were Half a Trial; This Book Gives You the Other Half.

    The LORD Has It Under Control: What the Bible Teaches About the Sovereignty of God,

    Tragic Ending to Donald J. Trump’s Great Presidency: Capitol Building Uprising Leads to Impeachment 2.0, as Media and Big Tech Bias and Claims of Election Fraud Continues

    Note: The links to Amazon are advertising links, for which I receive a commission in addition to my royalty if a product is purchased after following the link.


My Articles and Commentaries:

    BLM Thugs Invade Pittsburgh.

    Biden: Promoting the Sinful and Destructive LGBTQ Movement.

    Biden’s “Soul of a Nation” Speech: (which was really a hate-filled, fearmongering, divisive diatribe).

    December 2023 Political Commentaries (on Biden’s corruption and the horrid SCOCO decision on Trump).

    Dinah and the Defilement of Premarital Sex, Abortion Exceptions, and Incest (Genesis 34-35).

    Ethics, Spirituality, Christian Life (various articles).

    Hamas Fantasy, IDF Reality (Gaza Hospital Attack).

    Ideologies Behind Mass Killings.

    Israel-Hamas War (Israel Must Eradicate Hamas, Just As the USA Did with Al Qaeda After 9/11).

    Protests Turned Riots: (Lockdown Frustration, Domestic Terrorism, and Lack of Respect).

    Tiny Israel: Amidst a Massive Sea of Muslim Lands.

    Wrath of God Coming Down on the USA and Commonwealth of PA.



      ADL. Unprecedented Rise in Antisemitic Incidents Post-Oct. 7.

      Aol. Porch pirates are on the rise this holiday season.

      Breitbart. Blue State Blues: The Bible and the Struggle with Suicide.

      Breitbart. Poll: Majority of U.S. Young People, 18-24, Want Israel to Be Destroyed.

      Breitbart. New York Retailers Blast Gov. Hochul After Losing $4.4 Billion to Theft Last Year.

      Breitbart. Soaring Crime Pushes Wizards, Capitals Out of D.C.; Potential Revenue Loss $25M.

      CBS News. Auto thefts, carjackings in major U.S. cities spike, new report finds.

      CNN.  Why some US cities are facing a spree of ‘smash-and-grab’ crimes.

      Health.  4 Possible Reasons Why Mental Health Is Getting Worse.

      Health.  Youth Suicide Rates Have Increased Over the Past Decade, Experts Push Crucial Changes.

      Hot Air. America is dying, spiritually.

      NBC News. What's really behind the wave of sadness among teenage girls? We asked 9 of them.

      Newsmax. Chatty Robot Helps Seniors Fight Loneliness Through AI.

      Newsmax. Churches Provide Solace After Miss. Tornadoes.

      Newsmax. Sen. Lindsey Graham Set for 'War' Against N.Y. Over Chick-fil-A Bill.

      Newsmax. Video Reveals Antisemitic Sentiments on US Campuses.

      Newsmax. WSJ-NORC Poll: Americans Value Religion, Patriotism Less.

      Pew Research Center. Growing share of childless adults in U.S. don’t expect to ever have children.

      Psychology Today. Why Loneliness Is on the Rise.

      Street, The. Many U.S. Adults Dissatisfied With Life: CDC.

      Trib Live. Former churches are finding new life after religious calling.

      Trib Live. Legends of Pittsburgh fitness center eyes April opening at former Holy Martyrs in Tarentum.

      Trib Live. Pittsburgh diocese merges two parishes into one, dropping total to 60.

      Wikipedia. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Analytical-Literal Translation of the Old Testament

Volume One: The Torah

    The Analytical-Literal Translation  of the Old Testament (ALT: OT) is available in five volumes. This Old Testament is based on the Greek Septuagint (LXX). The LXX is a third century B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. This ALT: OT will enable the reader to come as close to the Greek text as possible without having to be proficient in Greek.

    This first volume contains the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). These five books are foundational to the rest of the Bible, the Jewish and Christian religions, and God’s plan of redemption.

Churches are Essential Revisited. Copyright 2024 By Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.zeolla.org/christian).

The above article originally appeared in Darkness to Light newsletter.
It was posted on this website January 1, 2024.

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