Overview And Project Goals

Both Episcopal dioceses in Indiana are collaborating on a major project to help congregations increase vitality and strengthen their mission and ministry by making the most of the assets and opportunities their buildings hold. This project will also advance the mission of the Episcopal Church “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ,” and to support the strategic focus of our dioceses on building parish vitality. Our work together will also respond to the ways the Covid-19 Pandemic is rapidly changing the world that congregations occupy and serve, and the number of challenges to – and growing opportunities for – thriving and serving. While buildings can be difficult to manage and steward, they are also valuable assets for vital ministry and service when used to their full potential. Through this project we uplift and recognize that viable, healthy, well-used parish buildings can help congregations live out their missions more effectively. Diocesan resources will be combined with tools and resources of Partners for Sacred Places and Indiana Landmarks, to help Episcopal congregations maximize the value of their properties via new or shared uses, partnerships with other organizations, and engagement with their communities.

Who and When?

Clergy and lay leaders from all 82 Episcopal congregations in Indiana (from both dioceses) will be invited to participate, starting in 2021 and continuing through 2023. Congregations will participate in cohorts, or groups, of approximately 20 congregations, each represented by a small team. Congregational teams will include clergy and 3-4 lay leaders/volunteers who can dedicate focus and time to the program. Team members will need to contribute an estimate of 5-6 days of their time across the 9-12 months of the project. Moving through all of the program components will take an average of 9 months, following the typical sequence outlined below.

Project Component Time
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 assess 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 capital grants 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.

We believe that our collaboration will build healthy, thriving congregations throughout the state of Indiana that are able to fully activate their spaces and enliven their buildings in partnership with their communities.

Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis

The pandemic is changing the world that our congregations occupy and serve more rapidly than ever before, and that has brought both challenges and opportunities to our ministry. Through this project, we aim to build parish health by helping maximize the value of church properties in service to mission.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Sparks VIII Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana

With so much to lament and grieve in the midst of a pandemic, we find our hope in the growing clarity of mission and service in our congregations and the buildings that make it possible to meet acute community needs. I am extraordinarily grateful to the Lilly Endowment for their continued and generous support of our ministry.

Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis