Places of faith anchor and shape our communities. Yet many congregations are facing declining attendance and insufficient funding to maintain and operate their historic buildings. These important community assets are in a period of transition across the country, and the Calgary area is no exception.
What is their future? How can they continue to contribute in a positive way to their communities?
Today I’m continuing my exploration of Faith/Arts Cohabitation with a quick tour of two great spaces in Philadelphia. In October 2017 I was there working with ArtsBuild Ontario, Faith & the Common Good and the Toronto Arts Council (funded by the Metcalf Foundation) examining a variety of working models for mutual support between arts and faith groups.
On an unseasonably warm (22 degrees!) November evening, myself and my partners from ArtsBuild Ontario and Toronto Arts Council set out on a walk across Philadelphia to Christ Church Neighborhood House. This was the first of two trips to explore the ways in which arts groups are thriving within faith buildings and often in collaboration with faith communities. First stop (with many thanks to the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation), Philadelphia, guided by Faith & the Common Good's friends and colleagues at Partners for Sacred Places, based in the United States.
Playwright Marcus Youssef, upon accepting this year’s Siminovitch Prize for playwriting, gave a speech that clarified for me why I am interested in the intersection of faith communities with the broader community. Youssef wrote about his interest in points of intersection and the space between people, spoken and unspoken. He wrote about moments of unexpected connection between people, across culture and groups and about learning from these liminal explorations and the richness that comes from these moments.
So you want to regenerate your place of worship? Begin the journey with a hard look at your own mission. That’s the message participants heard at two separate workshops hosted by Faith & the Common Good (FCG) and partners, in Peterborough (February 25, 2017) and Toronto (March 11, 2017).