A $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative has been awarded to Bricks and Mortals, a Judson Memorial Church-based organization devoted to proposing sustainable solutions for congregational buildings, along with collaborators Hartford Seminary and Partners for Sacred Places.
The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, Hartford Seminary’s Faculty Associate in Religious Leadership, is the founder of Bricks and Mortals and Senior Minister at Judson Memorial in New York City. The grant will fund a five-year program called Sustainable Solutions for Sacred Sites, which will “demonstrate adaptive, revenue producing, and sustainable uses for sacred sites.”
As collaborators, Drs. Scott Thumma and Allison Norton of the Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research (HIRR) will be primary and secondary consultants, respectively, as well as liaisons with HIRR. Dr. Thumma will manage Hartford Seminary’s participation in the partnership, providing strategic guidance and outreach for the program, as well as creating coursework. Dr. Norton will play a support role and participate on the advisory committee.
According to the grant, the program “will show that congregations can do even more with their real estate than they currently imagine.”
“The results of the program will include 25 congregation success stories and replicable studies on adaptive reuse of sacred sites. There will be 25 teams of congregational leaders; coursework for long-term capacity building for clergy; a congregational Toolkit on Adaptive Reuse suitable to a wide array of needs; a website and consciousness-raising in the American Christian community on adaptive reuse. Congregations will learn how to use and leverage their property as mission-central assets rather than debilitating burdens.”
The Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative aims to help Christian congregations “gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs,” according to a press release.
The grant process was highly competitive, with 93 grants funded out of 816 proposals received.
Great work, Donna, Scott, and Allison!