Sacred Places Summer 2009 - Page 12

REVIVAL AT CALVARY (cont.) from the community could participate as a legitimate part of the redevelopment process. Third, everyone realized that the project, which had a secular purpose, would have access to funders that would not support a congregation directly. Continued Support from Partners for Sacred Places and Community Groups Partners was intimately involved in the intricate negotiations around forming the non-profit Calvary Center and helped the process in a variety of ways over the years. For example, Partners contacted the buyer of the domes in the hope that he would be willing to let the church retain them. The buyer was so inspired by the momentum to restore the building that after agreeing to rescind the purchase, he made a $60,000 grant to the church to begin repairs. Summer camp students at Curio Theatre Company, one of several groups that now call Calvary UMC home. that public space for community activities was scarce, and wanted to see space developed for community activities. Many felt that Calvary could serve this purpose. Third, people felt that a local venue for culture and the arts could spur commercial development on Baltimore Avenue, a handsome “Main Street” that had become woefully dilapidated. Forming a Supporting Non-profit organization Moving the congregation, which had reluctantly concluded that it needed to leave its building, to reconsider its decision and partner with the community was not easy, and much time was spent in trying to reach consensus. In the end, despite some defections, the congregation made the decision not only to stay, but also to redevelop the building to serve all three goals defined in the focus groups: a building that would support secular community activities, a building that would serve as a venue for the performing arts, and a building that would remain a sacred space. The congregation, as owner of the building, had interests it wanted to protect. On the other hand, the community wanted to be sure that its input was taken seriously and have a sense of “ownership.” Neighbors wanted to be included in the decisionmaking process and the decisions themselves. An independent non-profit organization was a means to resolve these issues. A compromise was reached in which the church Trustees appointed a “majority of one” to the board of directors. This person would vote with the church if any decision was seen as detrimental to the church. Community residents would make up the remaining members of the board. Also, Calvary’s Trustees were given power to veto any decision that could not be legally supported by the United Methodist Church. So, in 2000, a new non-profit organization was formed: the Calvary Center for Culture and Community (Calvary Center), whose mission was to redevelop, repair and restore the building. The formation of the Calvary Center was key for several reasons. First, the congregation welcomed additional help in raising money, managing a capital campaign and making major repairs to the building. Second, a separate and independent organization would serve as a vehicle in which non-church members Sacred Places • • Summer 2009 Partners also included Calvary in its pilot New Dollars/New Partners training program, which bolstered Calvary’s capital campaign, and provided advice, labor, and even board members to work on the project. When Partners launched its Philadelphia Regional Fund for Sacred Places in 2006, Calvary received a $100,000 grant for building repairs. Partners also provided two smaller grants for special projects, and helped the Calvary Center obtain major foundation support for a variety of additional grants. Several local organizations also helped to ensure success. Notably, the University City Historical Society (UCHS), which was the first organization to understand the strategic importance of the building, provided the organizational umbrella for the Friends of Calvary. The University of Pennsylvania Law School helped Calvary incorporate the Calvary Center, and the Historic Preservation Department at Penn’s Graduate School of Design did a major study to determine what the original interior looked like, to guide the restoration effort. Later, the University City District (UCD), a Business Improvement District formed to improve the quality of life and physical plant of the community, soon partnered with the Calvary Center, directing organizations (continued on page 13) to Calvary as possible tenants. UCD also donated funds for exterior beautification