Thursday, June 9, 2011
Saving the World, One Church at a Time
For those of who you have the better part of an hour to spare, WHHY's Radio Times recently ran a great piece on the state of Philadelphia's religious architecture, and what can be done to save those buildings that have fallen on hard times. Kudos to Michelle H. for passing this along.
WHYY: Rescuing Philadelphia's Historic Houses of Worship
The panel, which includes A. Robert Jaeger, president of the awesome Partners for Sacred Places, goes in-depth into the issues afflicting churches and the options they have to survive.
To be fair, a lot of the stuff here is not drastically different from what we've already said dozens or even hundreds of times by now--congregations shift and shrink, maintenance is expensive, these places are a part of the neighborhood fabric, blah, blah, blah--but it's good nonetheless to see it being talked about publicly and seriously.
The most intriguing bits come from the action plan, the template that parishes can use to survive and even thrive again. And that, according to Jaeger, involves reaching out to both former parishioners and the greater community, positioning themselves as instrumental community assets. Think theater, musical performance or other public services. Doing so can triple the collections they'd get if they just targeted current members alone.
Or, as I've always said, fight. Fight for your survival. The world isn't safe for you, so get down and dirty, and do what you need to do. Ascension of Our Lord, I'm looking at you.
Hopefully, they and other churches take this approach. Even if Mayor Michael Nutter has expressed interest in this problem, as Jaeger indicates, the city has no money so we're likely a long way from any government help.
Oh, and props to Project fan Mezalick Design Studio, who receives a very nice shout-out.