Sacred Places Winter 2021 - Page 13

of the initial activities of every training is called , “ Meet the Mayor ,” where participants are asked to give a three-minute “ elevator speech ” in a role play that enacts a chance encounter with their municipal leader . “ Funny thing was ,” said Rev . James Moody , “ I was actually trying to get a meeting with Mayor Daley at that time .” Soon , Rev . Moody was in the real-life conversation , advocating for the City of Chicago to invest in Quinn Chapel ’ s restoration project . New Dollars / New Partners enhanced Quinn Chapel ’ s ability to describe its historical significance and community
Members work in small groups during Asset Mapping at Central Congregational Church in Galesburg , Ill . Photo : Joshua Castaño
impact in language that could persuade civic leaders to invest in the project . Confident in its case , Quinn Chapel was able to secure city , state , and federal funding for a multi-million-dollar project — a fundraising goal that , before the training , had seemed an insurmountable obstacle for a small congregation .
Many of the community-serving programs that congregations house have a measurable impact on their neighborhood ’ s wellbeing , and that impact is inspiring to organizations and individuals outside of the congregations . However , requesting grants from foundations is normally a daunting prospect for participating congregations . “ They ’ d ask , ‘ why would foundations care about us ?’” remembered Nancy Finegood . “ They care because you have a food bank [ or some other community outreach program ].” Partners facilitated discussions on how to identify appropriate grants for building projects , and how to leverage a congregation ’ s community value for external support . Participants learned how to build a convincing “ case statement ” that highlighted the importance of their facilities to their surrounding community , and the relevance of building improvement projects . “ Once we learned how to approach funders with a strong case statement , we started raising more money ,” said
Corliss Moody , summarizing the lessons learned by Quinn Chapel . “ But nobody cares about your building unless your building has an impact on people .”
The Legacy and Future of New Dollars / New Partners
Congregations all across the United States , in every type of community , face the challenges of stewarding large historic buildings . These challenges can dominate conversations about a congregation ’ s future , as well as the future of religious communities at large . “[ New Dollars / New Partners ] was definitely different from what is usually offered to congregations ,” says Rev . Wangaard . Judicatories and other funding sources tend to rely on grants “ that don ’ t do anything significant , that don ’ t get at the root of things .” Without the tools and inspiration to turn these challenges into opportunities , congregations can begin to see the buildings as burdens and become focused on their lack of capacity , on what they ’ ve lost over the years . “ There are tremendous dreams and visions ; [ New Dollars / New Partners ] was a way to put congregations on the road to fulfilling them .”
Although Quinn Chapel participated in the New Dollars / New Partners training over fifteen years ago , the congregation still uses what they learned in their building stewardship and community engagement ministries . Rev . James and Corliss Moody have been able to share what they ’ ve learned with other congregations and see the breadth of possibility that comes with this knowledge . “ These tools and models have great flexibility ,” said Rev . Moody . “ Congregations can figure out what tools can work for them and how to best use them in their context .”
The New Dollars / New Partners training continues to open up new opportunities for Partners to serve congregations . For example , congregations have long asked if Partners could play a hands-on role in helping them plan capital campaigns , prompting Partners to begin its successful Capital Campaign Consulting Services arm . New Dollars ’ approach to teaching and supporting congregations also helped to inform and shape the National Fund for Sacred Places , which will be investing over $ 20 million in 100 + historic sacred places over the course of a decade .
Partners plans to update and retool the New Dollars / New Partners curriculum to strengthen its ability to empower and equip congregations , making it available to congregations that do not have a judicatory sponsorship , and responding to new opportunities and new realities in the current religious landscape . For example , the program is utilizing digital tools and remote learning methods to develop online versions of training resources . Partners remains dedicated to helping congregations see “ a new world with new eyes :” helping them to recognize and communicate their value , equipping them with the knowledge to maintain and fund their buildings , and strengthening their community impact .
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