[October 17, 2019] Today, the National Fund for Sacred Places (National Fund) announced awards to ten historic congregations across the United States. These ten places, representing some of America’s most significant sacred spaces, have earned entrance into a national grant-making program that is set to invest $1.9 million in their repair and restoration, the safeguarding of their physical legacies, and strengthening the value they contribute to their communities.
“All ten are extraordinary places, with important architecture and consequential outreach,” said Bob Jaeger, President of Partners for Sacred Places. “Each project has been chosen because we believe they are poised for success and their projects will have a lasting impact on how these places serve their communities into the future. We look forward to working with each of them to preserve their buildings and make the most of them as assets for ministry and service.”
Now in its fourth year, the National Fund for Sacred Places is operated by Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This year’s group of participants includes a National Historic Landmark; the only Baptist church in Louisiana led by a female pastor; and churches designed by famed architects Stanford White and John Russell Pope.
“This year’s grant recipients are great examples of how congregations serve as centers of service, gathering and celebration,” said Paul Edmondson, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The places protected through this grant program, from a Gothic Revival Church in South Carolina to a Buddhist temple in Hawaii, deserve to be protected and preserved for future generations.”
Since its launch in 2016, the National Fund has drawn greater attention to the challenges and opportunities America’s faith groups face as they engage in community outreach. Between 6,000 and 10,000 sacred places close each year in the United States, and with them, important community programming.
The National Fund began with nearly $14 million in grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. Since then, the National Fund has awarded planning grants, training and technical assistance to 54 congregations and organizations. To date, the program has awarded over $4.7 million in capital grants, ranging from $50,000 to $250,000, to community-serving congregations representing 17 faith traditions in 29 states and the District of Columbia.
Grants assistance provided by the National Fund has not only helped congregations to preserve their sacred spaces but has helped them leverage more than $9.5 million in new funding for major building campaigns in their congregations and communities.
In 2019 the program received more than $15 million in additional funding, to continue the program through 2024.
This year’s applicants had to demonstrate the significance of their buildings’ religious architecture. The projects selected represent outstanding examples of Neoclassical, Gothic Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Romanesque building styles. Applicants also had to identify a compelling restoration plan and outlined a capital campaign that detailed internal fundraising goals and strategies.
The National Fund awardees for the 2019-20 program year are:
- National City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) — Washington, D.C. Designed by John Russell Pope before the architect designed the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art, the sanctuary serves as a center for national, religious and social justice gatherings.
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church — Syracuse, NY The growth of St. Paul’s paralleled the development of Syracuse from a canal-oriented outpost to an upstate urban center; South Sudanese refugee church members now count among those who use the space for community and religious activities. The parish is planning to repurpose underused space in its facility for mixed income housing units.
- Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago — Chicago, IL With murals by Frederic Clay Bartlett and windows by Tiffany Studios, Second Presbyterian hosts numerous hospitality services amidst a treasure trove of decorative arts.
- St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church — New Orleans, LA This 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival building hosts the only Baptist church in the state with a woman lead pastor. It is affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA and the Alliance of Baptists.
- Trinity Episcopal Church — Abbeville, SC Prominently located on Abbeville’s historic town square, this impressive church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The parish and its diocese are partnering with Preservation South Carolina to achieve major restoration projects at the site and manage the facility as a venue for religious and cultural activities.
- Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin – Jodo Shinshu (Shin) — Honolulu, HI Focused on the welfare of homeless families and elderly populations, the temple’s design elements blend symbols of Buddhism’s roots in India, adoption in Japan, and future in the West.
- First Congregational Church of Long Beach — Long Beach, CA Built on a rectangular foundation, the sanctuary is patterned after a Greek Cross. One of the first United Church of Christ congregations to declare itself open and affirming, members have led the campaign to change federal laws discriminating against LGBTQ people.
- St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church– Philadelphia, PA Vincentian Fathers founded this parish, built in 1851 by German and Irish immigrants, making it the Mother Church of the Vincentians’ antipoverty work across the country. Today, it hosts three of northwest Philadelphia’s major community-based programs.
- Lovely Lane United Methodist Church — Baltimore, MD Lovely Lane, designed by architect Stanford White in the Romanesque style, is the Mother Church of American Methodism. Today the church is focused on opening its doors to all kinds of community-based programs in its local Baltimore community.
- First Congregational Church — Sheridan, WY Featuring 31 stained-glass windows and a historic pipe organ, this Gothic Revival Style church started on a homestead near tryouts for Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Troupe. Today, the United Church of Christ congregation is a hub of community activity and hosts a substantial lunch program every week.
About The National Fund for Sacred Places The National Fund for Sacred Places is a Philadelphia-based grant-making program of Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. www.fundforsacredplaces.org
About Partners for Sacred Places Partners for Sacred Places helps congregations and others with a stake in older religious properties make the most of them as civic assets in ways that benefit people of all faiths and of no faith. Learn more at sacredplaces.org
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.SavingPlaces.org