Sacred Places Winter 2021 - Page 9


New Dollars / New Partners : Helping Congregations Maximize their Buildings for 17 Years by Sarah Lyn Jones

Consulting Services Coordinator Partners for Sacred Places

I n 2003 , Partners for Sacred Places piloted the New Dollars / New Partners training program to teach congregations the skills to restore and steward their historic buildings . The curriculum incorporated best practices in preservation , fundraising , and asset-focused community engagement , all taught by experts in the field . Using this holistic approach , Partners hoped that participants would find “ new dollars ” and “ new partners ” in their efforts to maintain not just their buildings , but their valuable community role . Over the past 17 years , over 900 congregations ( sponsored by 44 judicatories and other organizations ) have participated in New Dollars training . The popularity and success of the program has led to new opportunities for Partners as well as a multitude of churches and synagogues across the country .

“ promoting models of partnership where congregations attract broader support from government , business and the philanthropic community ;” and 3 ) “ disseminating best practices ” around the care and stewardship of older sacred places .
Partners decided to develop its own hands-on program to implement some of the recommendations coming out of the Sacred Place at Risk Study . With the leadership of staff member Sarah Peveler and partners from the Asset Based Community Development Institute , Partners created the New Dollars / New Partners training program and its primary resource , the Tool Kit . The program model gathered groups of six to ten congregations in training cohorts that would meet for several days of training , fellowship , and interactive learning over the course of several months . Each session generated concrete next steps and homework for the teams of three to five lay and clergy from each congregation . Training cohorts were typically sponsored by a denominational judicatory such as a presbytery , diocese , or synod , etc . or sometimes a preservation-focused nonprofit organization . The sponsor
New Dollars emerged in response to the groundbreaking findings of Partners ’ landmark study , Sacred Places at Risk . Published in 1998 , the study gained national attention for providing the first research-based approach to documenting the value that historic sacred places provide to their communities . In its conclusion , the report envisioned three new opportunities ( among others ) that became central to the thinking behind New Dollars : 1 ) helping congregations “ tell their stories of … community service and social impact ,” 2 )
Members of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pontiac , Mich . gather on March 8 , 2020 for congregational asset mapping work . Attendees divided into small groups facilitated by members of Partners ’ staff , with the group here receiving encouragement and guidance from Sarah Jones , Consulting Services Coordinator . Photo : Joshua Castaño