Although the city of Wabash is tucked away off the main highways of Indiana, it is a thriving place, offering a range of cultural amenities to its residents. Home to the Ford Meter Box Company and the Honeywell Center, part of the Honeywell Foundation, the city regularly hosts nationally recognized acts such as the Moscow Ballet, Riverdance, and Mannheim Steamroller. Wabash also won the Small Business Revolution in 2016 and was named a Stellar Community by the State of Indiana in 2014.
In the center of town is Wabash Presbyterian Church, located on a hill above Wabash’s historic commercial district. The congregation has a long history of community service, guided by its mission: “Loving people with the heart of Christ, in the heart of Wabash.” While the congregation itself is approximately 150 members, it strategically, creatively, and wisely about how the church should engage with its community. David Frederick, Director of the Sacred Places Indiana program, noted that Wabash Presbyterian Church’s “willingness to do things differently” was a significant part of its success. The congregation is “very open-minded,” and “they understand that they have an expanded role to play in the community.”
After the training, the church was ready to move forward with planning a capital campaign, starting with a feasibility study that was completed by Partners in January, 2019. “[We chose Partners because] there was no comparison with their level of expertise,” says the church’s pastor, The Rev. Jonathan Cornell. “Many organizations raise funds, but not many understand the unique needs of historic sacred places. We wanted [our consultant] to fit who we are. New Dollars New Partners dispelled some myths and calmed anxieties around capital fundraising and raising external community support.”
Over the past months, Wabash Presbyterian Church began the initial stages of a capital campaign to address the church roof, accessibility concerns, and other projects. “We are in a place where we know we can do this,” said Cathy Wright, a member of the church team that participated in the Sacred Places Indiana program. “We have a good sense of what it means to move forward. We feel confident that we’re in the best place that we can be.”
Participating in the Sacred Places Indiana training and working with Partners on the feasibility study and capital campaign gave Wabash Presbyterian Church the opportunity to articulate its value and importance to their community, as well as fully understand the ins and outs of a capital campaign. For other congregations considering future capital projects and fundraising efforts, Rev. Cornell has this advice: “Don’t rush. Take these steps of information gathering and planning, and be deliberate. Trust the process.”
Wabash Presbyterian Church, Wabash, Indiana
Photo: David Frederick