Light is a fundamental symbol of hope, goodness, redemption, justice, and survival across many faith traditions. From the Diwali diya (lamp) to the Jewish menorah to Advent wreath candles, light is a recognizable and unifying feature of religious practice and iconography worldwide.
Too often, however, historic houses of worship face challenges with outdated electrical and lighting systems. Among other issues, outdated lighting and wiring can render spaces unusable from lack of visibility and pose fire or security risks. These systems are typically expensive to replace and often take secondary priority to other urgent repairs such as roof replacements and water mitigation work. Yet installing lighting upgrades can have a drastic impact on the sense of place and life safety of historic houses of worship.
Right now, many other Japanese Buddhist temples across the Hawaiian Islands are in a period of decline. Rebirth is uncertain. At one time they were social hubs, “but that changed,” Rev. Reyn Yorio Tsuru says. The number of active temples has dwindled from almost 200 to about 50, as the congregations age and shrink. “A lot of temples are going to have to make the decision to continue,” Tsuru says. “Do we even want to continue?”
In April 2023, the Northeast Chapter of the Association of Preservation Technology (APTNE) led a tour of First Presbyterian Church of Stanford, and we wanted to bring you along to marvel at the “Fish Church” and its bejeweled interior.
For many, the act of listening to or performing music is often described as something sacred. In many religions around the world, foundational sacred texts and stories feature music as a recurring theme, and music has become an engaging way of expressing prayers in worship services. The natural connection between worship and music has grown over time as sacred sites have doubled as rehearsal and performance spaces which welcome broader audiences and foster cultural enrichment. Read more about National Fund participants and their connections to music.
Due to the success of the National Fund for Sacred Places, and the continued strong demand for grants supporting historic sacred sites, in January 2023 the Lilly Endowment Inc. renewed and expanded its financial support for the program so that by 2027, the National Fund will have awarded more than $40 million towards the preservation of community-serving historic houses of worship nationwide. To celebrate the renewed and expanded funding, and to further highlight the success of the program, here are five National Fund projects completed in 2022.
This article highlights two National Fund participants who completed capital projects in 2022: San Xavier del Bac Mission in Tucson, Arizona and Lovely Lane United Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. From the Sonoran Desert to the bustling streets of Baltimore, the two projects offer a glimpse into how the National Fund works with congregations across the United States to support the continued care and use of their historic properties as centers for community life.