How the Other Half WorshipsYou’ve probably seen them as you drive around San Diego. What used to be a flooring store in North Park is now a Spanish-language church. A house in eastern San Diego is now being used for Muslim prayers. A former corner market in Barrio Logan has been turned into a Pentecostal tabernacle. With land scarce and construction costs high, houses of worship are seeking sanctuary in inner-city storefronts, vacated movie theaters and strip malls ‚Äì here and across the nation. Camilo Jose Vergara has noticed it, too. The New York photographer spent the last three decades taking his camera to some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, documenting places few outsiders ever visit.

Over the years, he began spotting storefront churches, particularly in blighted urban areas. In many cases, the pastors were cab drivers and retired transit workers with little or no formal religious training.

Vergara, author of the book “The New American Ghetto,” saw these churches as part of the story he’s been trying to tell with his photography about the lives of the poor. After four years of Sundays spent in churches from the Bronx to Detroit to Los Angeles, he has published a book of photos called “How the Other Half Worships.”

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