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Church Buildings for Collaborative Partnerships

The diocese is collaborating with the Diocese of Northern Indiana on a project rooted in the simple notion that if congregations made better use of their buildings, they could serve God’s mission more effectively, foster deeper relationships in their communities, and possibly develop additional mission-supporting streams of income.

The Church Buildings for Collaborative Partnerships project, a nine-to-twelve month program funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving Congregations Initiative, is open to every Episcopal congregation in the state.

Drawing on tools, training and coaching from Partners for Sacred Places and Indiana Landmarks, participating congregations will learn to:

  • Strengthen their ability to identify and evaluate new ideas for using the church’s building and grounds to further its ministry
  • Deepen their capacity to cultivate relationships with community organizations that may wish to use the church building in furthering their work
  • Improve their ability to speak about the impact of their ministry and presence on their community;
  • Strategically focus their decision-making about maintaining, renovating or expanding their physical assets.

The program covers everything from understanding a building’s potential for new ministries to mapping the assets of the community, and from hosting community events, to writing grants for capital improvements to a fund created specifically to support the project.

For additional information, email Project Director Linda Buskirk.

Who and When?

Clergy and lay leaders from all 82 Episcopal congregations in Indiana will be invited to participate. The programs begins in 2021 and continues through 2023. Congregations will participate in cohorts of approximately 20 congregations, each represented by a small team. Congregational teams will include clergy and three or four lay leaders. Team members will need to contribute five or six days of their time to the project over a nine to twelve month period. Moving through all of the program components will take an average of 9 months, following the typical sequence outlined below.

Project ComponentTime
Clergy and representatives attend an online (1-hour) orientation to the program  Before program begins
Congregations’ teams will attend two days of training (either in person or in a series of smaller online sessions).  Months 1-3
Partners’ project staff will also visit each congregation after the training to help them asses their building and its potential for new or shared uses.  Months 1-3
In the following months, Partners’ and diocesan staff will coach congregations as they plan and host a community engagement event, likely to focus on asset-mapping, which will bring stakeholders and leaders from their community together on site.  Months 4-6
Lastly, congregations will be eligible to apply for planning and capital grants to make key investments to their buildings that allow them to follow the emerging opportunities and partnerships they’ve discerned.  Months 7-9

What Will Congregations Receive?

Space Use and Building Stewardship

  • An assessment of opportunities to use church spaces in new ways, conducted by Partners for Sacred Places with each congregation’s leadership
  • Inclusion in a statewide, web-based inventory listing the spaces congregations have to offer, along with opportunities to connect with new partners in their communities.
  • Access to grants from a fund created to support repairs and improvements that make spaces more welcoming and useable for existing and proposed outreach programs.
  • Support from Indiana Landmarks for congregations with historic buildings needing assistance with preservation planning and capital projects

Training Support and Developing Congregational Capacity

  • Training from Partners for Sacred Places and Indiana Landmarks on making the most of space, including community partnerships, developing and managing space-use partnerships, care of historic properties, and assessing alignment between space use and mission goals and priorities.  The training will empower congregations to discern and develop healthy space sharing partnerships and manage partnerships in a way that generates resources and energy for congregational work.
  • Diocesan training and convenings that support congregational and ministry development and build a lasting community of practice

Engaging Community to Build and Strengthen Partnerships

  • Coaching and support from Partners for Sacred Places for congregations to implement priorities and successfully conduct community events that lead to new programs that maximize the strengths that properties offer.

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