A COUPLE LEAVES St. Peter's Church after a 1999 Mass and renewal of marriage vows. (Dave Oxford photo)
A COUPLE LEAVES St. Peter's Church after a 1999 Mass and renewal of marriage vows. (Dave Oxford photo)
A Troy-based non-profit organization that serves low-income children and adults has purchased the former St. Peter's Church and its other 5th Avenue properties.

The Commission on Economic Opportunity for the Greater Capital Region (CEO) will use the buildings to expand its space "to meet the unique needs of our city," said Katie Fike, CEO's director of program planning and evaluation.

"There are a lot of people in the community who care about that church. A good organization that has a good mission is taking it over," Ms. Fike noted.

Parish trustees bought the land for six cents in 1828 and finished the first church building in 1830. It later burned to the ground. The current St. Peter's Church dates back 163 years. The parish would have been 188 years old today, but diocesan restructuring led to its closure in 2009.

Good neighbors
CEO's administrative office is adjacent to St. Peter's campus, which includes the church, rectory, lyceum and a two-floor residential building. With six outreach centers in Rensselaer County and foster grandparent programs in nine counties, the organization serves 14,000 people a year.

CEO formed almost five decades ago as one of 1,100 nationwide community action agencies that promote economic self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families. It addresses social, emotional, economic and educational needs in the community through early learning for toddlers, financial literacy and job training, food assistance, housing, economic development and health care.

For example, CEO's YouthBuild program helps low-income people ages 16 to 24 earn GEDs or high school diplomas along with job and leadership skills by building local affordable housing. The program also helps young adults apply for college or train for a career.

CEO's emergency food pantry serves about 3,000 people a year. The need for this service, as well as help with resumes and job interviews, has spiked - especially among individuals who have never needed help before, Ms. Fike said.

Growing needs
"Our intention is to continue to grow [and] to evolve to meet the needs of the community," she said. Buying St. Peter's "will allow us to do just that."

The sale is still pending, but the diocesan Office of Real Property said the Albany Diocese will use the proceeds to benefit other Troy parishes.

When the Diocese sells a church, its first choice for a buyer is another religious organization, followed by a non-profit organization. A for-profit organization is the last choice.