Found out yesterday that Assumption of the Holy Virgin Church (OCA) in South Philadelphia is closing after St Thomas Sunday. For the past few years it's been like my second parish, my Saturday Vespers in English one where for a while I was a regular helping sing the service from the kliros up in the back loft. It even had a real bell in the tower that announced the service (like a village church in England and other places).
It began like a lot of Metropolia parishes as a schism from the Greek Catholics but with a twist. In 1912 nearby Holy Ghost Church, then in Passyunk Avenue in a little Victorian Gothicky building and the oldest Eastern-rite church of any kind in the city, became Orthodox but the next year went back under Rome where it remains to this day (now at 24th and Wolf streets in a 1920s basilica-style home). Those who wanted to be Orthodox moved a few blocks away and built a set of red-brick buildings including a handsome little church. It originally had fine silver onion domes but those blew down, I think in a 1950s windstorm possibly a hurricane. As long as I can remember it had modern metal-skeleton ones that didn't match the building.
The old rectory was a rowhouse down the street; I knew an old priest's son who was born there in the 1920s. One of the few local parishioners, whose father co-founded the church, lived in or near it as of a few years ago.
(A treat of the neighbourhood is in the summer seeing the cats, like the people, hang out on the houses' front steps like the good honorary Italians the cats are.)
As recently as 25 years ago it was a lively community, a real parish with people of all ages and a social life (bowling for example). But the neighbourhood changed, the old parishioners died and the young ones moved away. Yet every week the priests and reader opened up the church and soldiered on.
Because the history of its founding was so long ago - time heals all wounds - it was also a place for grassroots, entirely by the rules ecumenism. Holy Ghost's people didn't come for Vespers but the priest did; we'd often sing the service at the kliros together. Afterwards I, he and Assumption's two priests often would have dinner at the Penrose Diner, sometimes meeting up with one of the local Italian RC priests and talking about things in common such as saints and their miraculous relics.
Assumption of course was ethnic Ruthenian and it never was entirely russified. The old parish record forms still were in Ruthenian (year = rok in Latin script) as well as English and the music a mixture of Ruthenian (the melody for the litany was a variation of that at Holy Ghost) and Russian.