By Andrew Hurrell – Advisor, Faith & the Common Good
This article is expanded content of the Fall 2017 PEN Insider, produced in partnership with Faith & the Common Good.
Regeneration Works – Places of Faith is a social enterprise created in partnership between Faith & the Common Good and the National Trust of Canada. It was created to increase the dialogue, build a learning community and offer services in support of the many stakeholders involved in the decisions around places of faith.
Let’s face it, times are tough for many local places of faith and their faith communities. As congregations age, they often struggle to fully utilize their existing facilities. (Editor’s Note: See “allsaints” article in the Fall 2017 PEN.) In many cases, maintenance and operating costs are a rising threat to the very existence of the place of faith. Sadly, neglect, fire sales, closures and sometimes abandonment are becoming more and more common across the country. When a place of faith closes the impact in the community can be far reaching. This is the case regardless of the setting: urban, suburban and rural.
Faith and the Common Good have a different, more hopeful outcome in mind for these places of faith. We recognize the value of theses places within their community and understand the important role they play. Beyond their obvious spiritual contributions to the community, they also contribute economically, socially and culturally to the communities they serve. Many of the places of faith also have significant heritage value. All of this may be lost if we simply let them disappear; for example, when a church building is removed to make room for a housing development without considering new uses, new partnerships or even adaptive re-use of the building.
The purpose of the Regeneration Works – Places of Faith partnership is to support stakeholders who are facing difficult decisions regarding a building. While we understand that not all places of faith can be saved, our objective is to help stakeholders make informed decisions about the place of faith, considering the range of options and alternatives, not to mention the current and future needs of the local community. The best decisions also include the input and involvement as many stakeholders as possible. Unfortunately, given the circumstances many communities of faith are in, poor decisions are often made due to fatigue, lack of resources, lack of time or money or simply lack of awareness of the options available.
Our multi-faceted team is comprised of dedicated individuals with expertise in churches, buildings, performing arts, heritage, community development, fundraising and more. Our offerings include workshops, training, assessments, advisory services and many resources like case studies. We have also been successful in pursuing certain grants to help offset some of the costs of the services and resources. As a result, some of our offerings are available at no charge while others can sometimes be subsidized.
We understand how much you treasure your place of faith and our desire is to help you steward this resource for the greatest impact possible. Ultimately, our primary purpose is to provide you ‘hope and a path forward’ as you consider the best possible future for your place of faith.