A Message from our Leadership
Looking back at the last year from the perspective of 2020, we are struck by something said by The Rev. James Moody, pastor of Quinn Chapel AME Church, the first African American church established in the city of Chicago:
By restoring the congregation’s connection to the community, Quinn can help those in the community in desperate need of resources and direction. The restoration of the facility has served as a vehicle for accomplishing [these] objectives. Quinn has become the “home” for channeling resources back into the community by building youth sports fields and sponsoring activities for youth, [among many other outreach programs].
As we continue to adjust to the pandemic and join together in the effort to fight systemic racism, Quinn Chapel exemplifies the sustained value that sacred places bring to our communities. When sacred places were forced to close temporarily, communities around the country lost childcare facilities, soup kitchens, concert halls, and meeting sites. At the same time, we saw the resiliency and continued drive of congregations to serve their communities, using their creativity to set up drive-through food pantries, using their parking lots as testing centers, and providing support to those in need, even when they could not use their buildings for worship.
This community value was true in 2019 as well. We just see it more clearly now.
We are so grateful to be able to work with remarkable congregations housed in historic sacred places that are striving to build stronger, more vibrant communities. And we are grateful, too, that Partners received several multi-year grants and substantial gifts in 2019 which have allowed us to continue to support sacred places without interruption last year and this year.
The National Fund for Sacred Places was renewed with $10 million in additional capital grants over the next several years, and our work with Nordic churches in the upper Midwest was extended as well. Last year saw the beginning of new work supporting sacred places as expressions of culture and folk arts in Appalachia, an exciting project to measure the Economic Halo Effect of rural Methodist churches in North Carolina, and the beginning of a host of new consulting projects from coast to coast.
Over the past year, Partners has demonstrated creative solutions and new approaches to the most difficult and intractable problems faced by congregations with historic buildings and the communities they serve. We are proud that the creative heart of Partners was strong in 2019, moving us to do new work, but also readying us for the enormous challenges we are facing now. This continuity and innovation would not have been possible without the support of our donors and partners. We thank you most wholeheartedly, and we want you to know that your investment in Partners was well placed.