It was reported on July 28, 2012, that a Swaminarayan temple, which was earlier a run-down church in Los Angeles, California, was thrown open to devotees.
The 80-year-old church was acquired for $1.3 million by Swaminarayan Maninagar Gaadi Sansthan (SMGS).
The Sansthan has acquired five such old churches in Canada, the US and the UK. Two weeks ago a 121-year-old heritage church building in Toronto, Canada was acquired for $1.6 million.
SMGS plans to retain carvings and glass paintings for the temple-ashram. The trend started in the UK in 1982 when St Ninian’s Church was bought for 200,000 pounds and a temple built on the 2.5 acre compound.
Bhagwati Priyadasji of SMGS said “The idol installation at the California temple will take place in the inspiring presence of Gaadipati Purshottam Pridasji Maharaj.”
In 1998, when a 70-year-old church in Bolton was bought and turned into a temple, the glass paintings which had images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary were retained.
Mahesh Varsani, trustee of Swaminarayan Temple Trust in the UK said, “People from different faiths visit this temple.”
The growing number of Swaminarayan temples all over the world only underlines the financial clout of the Gujaratis immigrant community.
The SMGS has 12 temples abroad. Most of the churches acquired are situated in prime areas and in a run-down condition.