Sacred Places Spring 2013 - Page 3

FROM THE PRESIDENT TABLE OF CONTENTS 3 Update on Partners; New Dollars/New Partners Success Story; Arts in Several years ago, I was talking with Melanie Stewart, a respected leader in the dance community, who mentioned that many small dance groups are in a constant struggle to find affordable space for rehearsals and other functions. I noted, in turn, that churches and synagogues, ironically, have a great deal of unused or underused space. There was a shared “Aha!” moment. Why couldn’t Partners serve as a “matching” and support agency, bringing sacred places together with performing arts groups? Sacred Places Success Story 17 20 22 FEATURE STORY: A Visionary Model: First Christian Church and the Community Eye Clinic of Fort Worth Professional Alliance Spotlight: Levine and Company Professional Alliance Directory ABOUT PARTNERS Partners for Sacred Places is the only national, nonsectarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to the sound stewardship and active community use of America’s older religious properties. Partners’ Programs and Services Include: • • • Training. New Dollars/New Partners for Your Sacred Place is an intensive program that gives congregations with older buildings the skills and resources to broaden their base of support. Regional Offices. Partners offers training, workshops, and technical assistance through its Pennsylvania, Texas, and Chicago Offices. Workshops and Conferences. Partners’ staff speaks at national and regional conferences on a variety of topics. Additionally, Partners offers consulting services on fundraising and adaptive re-use options for congregations and community organizations. • Information Clearinghouse. This web-based resource provides information related to the care and use of older sacred places. • Advocacy Initiatives. Partners works with civic leaders, funders, and policymakers, urging them to adopt policies and practices that provide new resources to older religious properties. • The Economic Halo Effect. Partners documents and articulates how congregations positively contribute to the economic health and vitality of their communities. • Making Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places. Partners pairs historic sacred places and arts organizations in ways that benefit both groups. COVER PHOTO: First Christian Church in Fort Worth, TX, houses the newly opened Community Eye Clinic of Fort Worth. Photo courtesy of Renelibrary from THUMBNAIL PHOTO: A volunteer helps clear the site of Ward AME’s new community garden in Philadelphia, PA. Photo courtesy of Urban Tree Connection. That conversation was the seed for our Making Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places (AiSP) program, which has already met with great success. As we started to communicate AiSP to civic leaders and funders, we were asked if we could also match sacred places with social service, health, and education groups. Another “Aha!” moment! The cover story of this issue – on our work to bring together First Christian Church in Fort Worth with a new, cutting-edge Community Eye Clinic – illustrates how Partners can serve a wide range of community needs. And as clinic director Dr. Jennifer Deakins notes, the church is providing not just space but much more. Volunteers from First Christian and the community will be serving as patient advocates, connecting them to important resources that can provide food, shelter, job training, and other types of health care. In sum, a sacred place can provide a bundle of services and support, all revolving around its physical place. As our cities identify acute challenges, especially in certain neighborhoods where people are underserved, Partners is seeing that sacred places are perfectly suited to function as centers for performing arts, nutrition education, health programs, and other community outreach. Why is this so? • Sacred places are universal. They are present almost everywhere – evenly distributed in neighborhoods that may lack nutritional food, or a safe place for kids after school, or the performing arts. And they often have highly visible locations that are easy to reach via public transportation. • Sacred places offer one-stop space shopping. Older churches often have a wide range of available space, including auditoriums, classrooms, institutional kitchens, and a range of meeting spaces. There is likely to be a space to meet almost any need. • Sacred places are flexible. Church spaces have been used for multiple purposes over decades or longer. The congregation’s parish hall, for example, may have housed a theatre in the 1920s, civil rights meetings in the 1960s, and afterschool programs in the 1990s. Today, that same space might be appropriate for nutrition education or rehearsals. • Sacred places have owners with shared values. Congregations are, very often, eager to share their space and serve the community in new ways. They ͕