Swedenborg Chapel in midst of Harvard tries to hang on

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- For more than a century, the tiny Swedenborg Chapel has been located in the middle of the stately environs of Harvard University. If it doesn't make a $2 million payment by the end of March, it may be absorbed by them.

The church must raise more than three-quarters of the payment after 21 months of trying. If it fails, the 40-member congregation will likely cease to exist and the property will be placed on the open market.

The $2 million payment is required as part of a two-year mortgage agreement between the congregation and the Swedenborgian House of Studies, a seminary belonging to the same denomination that owns the property. The deal was struck to give the congregation a last chance to own the chapel.

The Swedenborg church has just 7,000 members nationwide and 30,000 worldwide, and the Cambridge chapel is perhaps its most prominent landmark.

The Swedenborg church, also called The Church of the New Jerusalem, believes Jesus is God's son and the redeemer of the world, but that salvation can be found in any monotheistic religion that teaches loving your neighbor as yourself.

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