Sacred Places Fall 2011 - Page 16

FEATURE STORY A Friend(s Group) Indeed Friends of Trinity Cathedral in Miami, FL, hosts an annual silent auction and gala to raise funds for restoration projects at the 1925 cathedral. A leaking roof. Crumbling masonry. Deteriorating stained glass windows. An outdated (or nonexistent) fire suppression system. The list of concerns for stewards of older buildings can be daunting, especially when the steward is a congregation that struggles to balance its mission to the community with the care of its sacred place. What’s a congregation to do when it is unable to raise funds for repair costs, when members have given all they can? Partners for Sacred Places’ intensive training program, New Dollars/New Partners for Your Sacred Place, shows congregations how to articulate their public value and look beyond their walls for potential sources of funds. One powerful tool advocated in the training – which any sacred place can take advantage of – is the creation of a friends group to engage individuals from outside the immediate congregational community and garner support for the building’s preservation. A group of interested individuals can be organized to support the preservation and revitalization of a sacred space. It should include members of the congregation and the congregation’s staff, as well as community members, civic leaders, and any party invested in your building. 15 • Sacred Places • • Fall 2011 The friends group extends the limited capacity of the congregation and staff to reach out to the greater community to seek assistance and raise funds, and raise awareness in the community at large. Organizing such a support group does not have to be a daunting task. It can be as straightforward as convening individuals who are committed to keeping the congregation and its facilities as vital community assets. They can be local residents who see your building as an anchor in their neighborhood or architecture enthusiasts who understand the importance of your building. Success depends on getting out in the community, articulating the worth of the building and the services it provides, and finding ways to connect with previously unknown resources. Friends groups generally attract the attention و[