Sacred Places Winter 2019 - Page 8

SACRED PLACES INDIANA: Developing New Connections Between Sacred Places and Their Communities by A. Robert Jaeger President, Partners for Sacred Places I ndiana is known for its thriving capital, Indianapolis, and cities such as Evansville and Fort Wayne that are dotted with spires and domes that signal the presence of active congregations in distinctive, important buildings. In addition, much of the state is known for its small towns, scattered among rich farmlands and, further south, rolling hills that approach the Ohio River. Like much of the Midwest and Northeast, many communities have declined in population over the years, and smaller churches are learning how to sustain their congregations and carry out their outreach with fewer resources. At the same time, many of these churches have enormous assets: active leaders, a reputation for service and outreach, and historic buildings that have great cultural and architectural value that truly anchor their downtowns and main streets. For the last four years, a strong statewide historic preservation organization—Indiana Landmarks—has been serving congregations in both small towns and larger cities, providing them with the tools and resources they need to repair their buildings and use their assets in creative ways to serve the larger community. In a very short time, Landmarks’ program—Sacred Places Indiana (SPI)—has become one of the most important and influential programs serving religious properties in America. Second Baptist Church, New Albany, Indiana Photo: David Frederick 8 8 SACRED PLACES • WINTER 2019 Landmarks is responding to what it sees as an urgent, growing issue in historic preservation. As its President, Marsh Davis, puts it, “Sacred Places