Inside San Francisco's 'Hack Temple,' a church where technology is a religion

Startup life can be a religious experience for those immersed in it. A shared passion brings people from all walks of life together. They evangelize their technologies.

A Russian angel investor wants to give people passionate about startups a real-life a place of worship.

Pavel Cherkashin, a former executive at Adobe and Microsoft, and his new venture capital firm GVA Capital, are converting a 104-year-old church in San Francisco into an event center and accelerator for international startup founders. It’s called the Hack Temple.

“It’s time to build new religions around what we really believe in, technology,” Cherkashin writes in his manifesto.

Let’s take a look inside.

'If I were to start a religion, I'd start The Church Of Hacktism,' Cherkashin wrote in a playful essay in January.

The Hack Temple is an event center and startup accelerator located in San Francisco.

Last November, GVA Capital bought the former Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, built in 1912, for $7 million. For nearly 80 years, it served as a place of worship for Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Courtesy of GVA Capital

The church closed in 1991 after membership declined, and it became an English school for Chinese-speaking children.

Courtesy of GVA Capital

Community has always been at the core. Cherkashin hopes to carry on the building's tradition of bringing diverse groups of people together.

Courtesy of GVA Capital

'San Francisco has always been the center of free thinking and innovation in our country,' Cherkashin told Business Insider in November. 'This is the perfect place for people from all over the world to come and share their vision for the future.'

Pavel Cherkashin.

Hack Temple hosted its first TEDx event in February.

In March, Daybreaker, an event series featuring drug-free, device-free morning raves around the world, turned the church into a club for its first-ever evening dance party.

The 'Twerk du Soleil' themed rave included dancing, yoga, acrobatic performances, and free beverage and snack giveaways.

Renovations are ongoing, but these renderings give a glimpse of the future of the space. A large hall fits hundreds of people comfortably for listening to someone speak or present an idea.

Communal workspaces provide an intimate place to hold a meeting with a mentor or zone in on coding.

Hack Temple is home to one of the oldest organs in the US. A neon sign that includes a line of HTML coding hangs just below it.

Cherkashin said the firm plans to restore the building closer to its original aesthetic. 'If the original architect were to see it now, he'd be proud,' Cherkashin said.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church received designation as a historical landmark, so the exterior cannot be altered. But the interior is fair game.

The $7 million real-estate grab was a surprising move by GVA Capital. 'To be successful, investors have to build a reputation by doing something valuable for the community and business ecosystem,' Cherkashin said.

The church will be fully operational by late 2017.

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