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Community | Unprecedented $14 Million Fund Established to Save Historic Churches

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The church bells rang out (metaphorically) on November 2nd as Partners for Sacred Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced an unprecedented $14 million National Fund for Sacred Places to assist houses of worship in need of repair and restoration. Bailey Edward’s Robin Whitehurst, AIA, who serves as a board member for Partners for Sacred Places, praises the development of the Fund as an essential measure to aid local communities and preserve historic buildings.

Generously supported by Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Fund provides both 1) grants for the planning and execution of urgent capital projects at historic churches that are valued for their cultural importance as well as their role in providing human services, strengthening communities, and revitalizing neighborhoods; and 2) training, capacity-building and technical assistance to ensure that grant-funded projects are successfully planned and implemented. By providing training, consulting and financial resources, congregations make the most of their facilities as agents of community renewal, encouraging collaborations with outside groups to activate spaces in exciting and innovative ways that draw people to the church and encourage investment in the community.

“As a historic preservation architect, I was obviously drawn to the amazing buildings used by religious groups across the country,” says Robin “but the design challenges facing these groups are truly interesting; balancing the value of a congregation’s architectural assets, its worth as a faith community, and the significance of its service to the community at large. The partnership of Partners, the National Trust, and Lilly Endowment on the Fund eases the financial burden of these architectural masterpieces to these groups. But, similar to Partners mission to help worship facilities reimagine your community and your sacred place, the Fund provides the necessary tools and training to help revitalize the church and the community to make more informed and strategic decisions in the future. I’m really proud of that since I believe in designing for the social good.”

The inaugural grantee list included congregations in all regions of the United States, from Maine to Hawaii and Texas to Wisconsin. Applications for the second round of grants, which will be awarded in the fall of 2017, are currently being accepted through the National Fund for Sacred Places website.

If you have a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other worship space in need of architectural or engineering services, contact Robin to discuss your worship facility’s challenges.