PHILADELPHIA – The National Fund for Sacred Places, the only grant source dedicated to supporting building projects for historic houses of worship, is accepting Letters of Intent through April 17. This year marks the third such opportunity to tap a pool of over $10 million for restoration and renovation projects that enhance the ability of sacred places to serve as hubs of community life.
Last year over 200 congregations competed for a slot in the program. Seventeen were selected to join the program, along with fourteen from the year before. To apply this year, congregations must complete an online Letter of Intent form on the program website: www.fundforsacredplaces.org. The program is especially looking to expand its funding reach on the west coast, southwestern United States, and in the plains states, as well as with rural and small town congregations. All faith traditions are eligible for consideration.
In 2016, First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids (MI) was planning to add onto its historic facility, and looking for funds to ensure it could restore the building’s original stained glass windows and masonry at the same time. The congregation came to the National Fund, and it was awarded a grant of $100,000.
“We’re in a compact, urban setting in a building that’s over a century old,” said Reverend Randy Buursma. “Truth be told, we are running out of space for the congregation and for all of the services and events that we provide to our neighbors.”
Now the project is nearing completion. And the church’s leadership has gone through a transformation too. As Buursma explains, “I talk differently about what our church does in our neighborhood which actually is more encouraging to those who are doing the work and more inviting for those who consider joining in.”
This is exactly the kind of impact the program was designed to spur in local communities. As Bob Jaeger, President of Partners for Sacred Places, explained at the outset of the program in 2016:
“We believe that the capital grants and other services provided by the Fund will encourage other donors and civic leaders to join our effort to preserve sacred places that anchor and serve our communities in powerful ways.”
Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, added, “We are delighted... to help more sacred places thrive, now and well into the future.”
Since the launch of the National Fund in 2016, the program has worked to build the skills and capacity of congregations to be good stewards of their buildings, to attract the financial support of additional funders and stakeholders, and to highlight the civic value of historic sacred places across the country.
Now congregations in towns and cities across the country, from Hawaii to Maine, are reaping the benefits of this multimillion dollar investment of time, expertise, and money. Like others in the program, First Christian Reformed has had new funding sources step up to support their vision for another century of service to their community--after being awarded a grant from the National Fund, two local foundations added their own grants to the mix.
The National Fund for Sacred Places is a program of Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
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.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, protects significant places representing our diverse cultural experience by taking direct action and inspiring broad public support.