Sacred Places Winter 2021 - Page 3

Chris Kendig Photography from the President


This is a paean to Partners ’ staff . At a time when the pandemic is stressing and testing almost every nonprofit and small business in America , all of us here at Partners have been asked to find new and creative ways to do our work , and to keep the organization active and healthy .

Normally some of us are on airplanes and in rental cars several days a week , traveling to the congregations we serve , meeting with donors and supporters , and communicating our message on the larger community value of sacred places everywhere we go .
Of course , now we cannot ( or should not ) fly , and we certainly cannot meet with large groups of congregants or community members . And yet we cannot let our work languish or pause for too long . Congregations still need to raise funds to repair their buildings , and our training , research and support services are needed as much as ever !
Like many organizations , we have learned how to provide a multitude of services and support remotely . For example :
✤ Our Community Engagement Consulting staff has developed ways to help a congregation organize and lead advisory committee meetings , and move toward community-wide asset-mapping events using small groups if necessary .
✤ Working with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte , we are finding ways to adapt our Economic Halo Effect research to this virtual moment , conducting interviews with rural United Methodist congregations throughout North Carolina .
✤ The staff for our National Fund has been able to gather and evaluate Fund applications this year in preparation for the selection of our fifth cohort of participants , and is providing support for capital projects and fundraising campaigns across the country .
So , yes , Partners has been stretched and strained by all the enormous pressures caused by the pandemic , but I ’ m proud to say we have successfully adapted in a multitude of ways . This response reflects , once again , Partners ’ strong entrepreneurial strengths , evident again and again over the years .
Nonetheless , we are eager to get out into the field and work in person with congregations and community leaders as soon as we can in 2021 ! And when we do , we will bring new tools and new learnings that have emerged from this difficult time .
✤ Our Capital Campaign Consulting staff has been meeting remotely with congregations to share our community-wide approach to capital campaigns , and conferring with steering committees , staff , volunteers and donors to plan and execute those campaigns .
✤ The staff for our Nordic Churches program has created workshops to introduce congregations to artists who could create new works of folk art that can tell their stories and continue Scandinavian cultural traditions into the future .
✤ My colleagues are embarking on the second stage of our work with dancers , dance groups and congregations in New York City , to explore and support shared space arrangements .