Saturday, June 30, 2012

Recasting Your Church's Building Assets for Congregational Viability

Congregational Seasons is very grateful for the following essay by Bob Jaeger, President of Partners for Sacred Spaces, 

Partners for Sacred Spaces New Dollars/New Partners for Your Sacred Space training program provides intensive, hands-on help to one or more parishes in a given diocese, encouraging them to identify their building assets (e.g. excellent acoustics, expansive kitchen, shareable parish hall), develop new partners in the community, and broaden their donor base. Partners have worked with hundreds of parishes nationwide, and with several dioceses in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, South and West.

In an urban setting, St. Martin's, a mission church in Chicago, would face closing without new ways to raise funds and use space effectively.  The parish took part in New Dollars, which helped parishioners organize, map out priorities and space uses and think more about their mission and purpose - within the diocese and the context of a struggling west side neighborhood.  The church is hosting more arts and music activities now, and is thinking about how it can take better advantage of its position on a charming plaza, complete with fountain, in front of the church. Thanks to Partner's encouragement, the parish is placing a church table in the plaza for a community block party this summer, to bring visibility and new visitors to the church.

Recognizing that many rural churches are small and could close without help, the Diocese of Vermont retained Partners to offer New Dollars training to several parishes, among them the Church of Our Saviour in Kilington. The church learned how to map its internal assets, as well as assets in the larger community. Recognizing its super acoustics, the parish is now hosting concerts sponsored by the local library when the weather is inclement.  Given its location in the countryside, it worked with the town government on a scenic byways initiative, bringing more visitors to the church.  These steps have brought new energy and visibility to the parish and have attracted new funding that has underwritten the replacement of the parish house roof.

Parishes that are looking for new funding and support for the repair and effective use of their buildings have an important resource at hand: Partners for Sacred Spaces.  Partners has been working with Episcopal churches (and congregations from all faith traditions) across the nation for 23 years, with a special focus on helping them raise capital funds in new ways and use their space more effectively for ministry.  Partners also works with the Episcopal Church Building Fund.

Note from Joe Duggan: Congregational Seasons will soon celebrate the work and ministry of the Episcopal Church Building Fund, so stay tuned...

For further information, contact:

Bob Jaeger, President of Partners for Sacred Spaces, 

The Rev. Christopher Griffin
St. Martin's, Chicago
773 378 8111

The Rev. Diane Root
Church of Our Savious, Killington, VT
802 422 9064

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