Shrinking attendance at churches nationwide leaves fewer resources to maintain historic houses of worship, often among the most architecturally distinguished and lavishly ornamented structures in a community. To deal with an increasing volume of calls for help from congregations in historic churches with restoration needs, Indiana Landmarks and Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places founded Sacred Places Indiana in 2015 with funding from Lilly Endowment. Subsequent additional funding came from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc.
“After seven years of operating Sacred Places Indiana, Indiana Landmarks is ready to accept the challenge of expanding the program to offer meaningful assistance to even more congregations,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for the opportunity to sustain and grow this valuable initiative.
Since its founding, the program has served 43 congregations from 14 denominations, providing technical expertise, rehabilitation grants, and training in community engagement, strategic partnerships, and fundraising. The recent grant will help Sacred Places Indiana expand these training opportunities, build congregational capacities, and assist with stewardship of their historic churches.
During the next three years, the funds from Lilly Endowment will be used by Sacred Places Indiana to create a more robust matching grant program, offering planning grants of up to $25,000, capital grants of up to $500,000, and emergency grants of up to $250,000 to qualifying congregations.
Along with relieving the financial burden for local congregations, Sacred Places Indiana will also supply the technical expertise of Indiana Landmarks’ preservation staff to help ensure the historic character of these special places is protected, assisting in prioritizing maintenance needs and identifying qualified contractors and tradespeople.