Restoring a Historic Landmark: Strategic Investment for Sacred Places (SISP) Initiative

Partners for Sacred Places and their affiliation with Christ Episcopal Church, Montpelier, VT

Founded in 1989 – a non-denominational, non-profit organization focuses on caring for and making use of older and historic religious properties – Partners has helped several thousand congregations across the U.S. through a variety of programs to make the most of their assets, leverage funding, raise money, and communicate their value to the communities surrounding them. In short, it provides skills and resources to help us broaden our base of support.

Ten parishes in Vermont were selected – five by the Vermont Conference United Church of Christ, and five by the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont – to participate in the organization’s Strategic Investment in Sacred Spaces partnerships. Christ Episcopal Church, Montpelier is one of those parishes invited to participate in this initaitve which began in July, 2014.

As of mid-December 2014, there have been two informative and dynamic all-day training sessions, with Christ Church well represented. The most recent one was held on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at Bethany Church, Montpelier on the topic “New Community Partnerships.” It might surprise folks to learn that food and the arts were topics addressed at that session, with an articulate and enthusiastic representative in each area (Derrick Lambert, a child nutrition advocate from “Hunger Free Vermont”, and Alex Aldrich, Executive Director of the Vermont State Arts Council on the Arts) giving a brief presentation on how community partnerships in their respective spheres can contribute to enhanced use of our resources, our sacred place, and our contributions to the community. Interestingly, we also learned of some of the pitfalls and unexpected glitches and consequences of expanded use of our space.

Shawn Bryan has been our lead person and project manager, serving as a channel of communication and information between the Philadelphia office of PSP and Christ Episcopal Church. He has been enormously helpful in this process, spending a great many hours on our building issues and acting as a liaison between PSP and our Vestry (elected leadership team).

The PSP organization provided a $5,000 grant to each participating parish – seed money to be
used as each determines to be valuable in the context of the mission – this subject was discussed at the November 24 Vestry meeting and we will talk about it in further detail at our upcoming December 15 meeting.

Please check back to see our progress as we strive to repurpose Christ Episcopal Church as a community resource center for the greater Montpelier community.