Congregations across the United States are struggling to maintain their historic and older buildings as congregations shrink and age. This has led many congregations to sell their buildings to developers who either demolish or adapt for private use. Partners for Sacred Places (Partners) has developed a written resource for congregations beginning to contemplate the sale of property: Transitioning Older and Historic Sacred Places: Community-Minded Approaches for Congregations and Judicatories. This resource walks congregations through self-assessment and discernment processes and also presents practical guidance and case studies. Ultimately, Partners’ goal is to persuade congregations to see their properties as more than just real estate and to pursue preservation-sensitive outcomes. After all, sacred places anchor communities and contribute to a sense of place; embody the histories of communities; and represent decades of investment, sacrifice, and service. Speakers will walk through the research that led to the creation of the Guide, which was focused on religious buildings in Philadelphia. Learn how this resource can become part of all preservation professionals’ toolkits – especially local landmark commissions and preservation advocacy organizations, which interact with congregations in their communities routinely.
A. Robert Jaeger is President of Partners for Sacred Places, America's only national non-profit organization dedicated to maximizing older religious properties as assets for both congregations and their communities. He co-founded Partners in 1989, and has overseen two rounds of research with the University of Pennsylvania on the civic value of sacred places that has informed the development and delivery of resources that support that value, including the New Dollars/New Partners training program, the National Fund for Sacred Places, and the Arts in Sacred Places program. Before founding Partners, Jaeger was the Senior Vice President of the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation and founder of its Historic Religious Properties Preservation Program. He is author or co-author of Sacred Places at Risk; Conservation of Urban Religious Properties; Sacred Places in Transition; and Religious Institutions and Community Renewal, was the founding editor and columnist for Inspired magazine, and is the editor of Sacred Places magazine. Jaeger has spoken at Partners’ seven national Sacred Trusts conferences, as well as conferences of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Methodist Commission on Archives and History, the Society of Architectural Historians, the Indianapolis Center for Congregations, Duke University Divinity School, the Tallahassee Preservation Board, the Florida Historical Society, the Cornell University preservation program, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and the Presbytery of Detroit. He has presented or lectured at national and international conferences such as “What Future for Which Churches” in Quebec; "Amazing Space" in Indianapolis, Indiana; and "Icons of Faith" in Lubbock, Texas. He has accepted a National Preservation Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Conover Award from the Faith & Form/Interfaith Design International Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture, and the F. Otto Haas Award from Preservation Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The Rev. Dr. Rochelle A. (Shelly) Stackhouse was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 1982. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, she has served churches of varying sizes as Senior, Solo, Interim and Transitional Pastor in Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. She now serves as Senior Director of Programs for Partners for Sacred Places. She received a PhD from Drew University in Liturgical Studies and has taught at numerous seminaries, most recently Yale and Lexington. She is the author of one book and numerous book chapters and articles. She currently lives in Connecticut.