Mind over Matter: Solving Church Building Dilemmas

No matter their size or age, church buildings can be a challenge for 21st century congregations to sustain.

Prime among the concerns most congregations face is the issue of energy costs for heating and cooling. Then there are those expansive roofs that from time to time must be repaired or totally re-shingled. And what of the cost of replacing old boilers and maintaining aging electrical wiring and plumbing?

At times, it can seem that our buildings are an albatross around our necks.

Yet there exists that other dimension. The one in which our beloved buildings seem almost to be sacred vessels that embody our faith. From soaring arches and gothic stone, to far simpler wood frame or concrete block structures, whatever the architecture, we are quick to imbue our church buildings with all of our spiritual hopes and dreams.

Many congregations spend inordinate amounts of time, energy and money addressing the needs of their physical plant. And no wonder! A good number of church buildings in our diocese were built in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In a time when central heat was largely unheard of, the fact churches were cold was unremarkable and the heat of summer was just a given.

How can we sustain our buildings today without bankrupting ourselves?

This is where the Episcopal Church Building Fund (ECBF) can help. Their mission is to help churches dream big and dream realistically. “Our goal is to ground churches in the reality of the day and help their imaginations soar,” says President Julia Groom.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the challenges that churches face. Getting to the idea(s) that will work for each church she says, depends largely on three things: location, contacts, and a bit of the church’s history.

ECBF’s website provides proof of that. It’s full of inspiration and ideas, including examples of more than 60 ways churches across the country have addressed their building issues. You’ll also find some practical tools. Check it out – it’s worth your time.

Join us April 23 for an event with ECBF to “jump start” your parish.

This spring, The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York and The Upstate Lutheran Synod are pleased to partner with the Episcopal Church Building Fund to offer JumpStart! CNY/Upstate. This one-day event is aimed at parish leaders who are ready to take a hard look at the challenges congregations face over their future. You’ll come away ready to “jump start”your parish into new and revitalized ministries and mission. Learn more and register here.

This article was provided to The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York by the Episcopal Church Building Fund.

Feature image: © Steven Pavlov, via Wikimedia Commons.

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