St. Joseph is one of a growing number of churches in Detroit that are strengthening the role they play in communities as they seek support beyond the dollars they receive through the Sunday fundraising plaque.
Traditionally, religious organizations are self-financing and depend on members of their congregations for annual operational support. It worked well for a few hundred years, but as populations aged and migrated to other areas, congregations dwindled, said Philip Jamieson, president of the United Methodist Foundation for the Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences. and adjunct faculty member at the Lake Institute on Faith. and Donate to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
“People are less and less connected to the neighborhoods where these churches exist,” he said, which has left many churches struggling to secure funding.
To keep their mission alive, churches are re-examining the value they bring to neighborhoods, broadening their demand for support, and channeling it to non-traditional funding sources, including people who are not members of the congregation, foundations and civic groups, Jamieson said.
While not new, it is a trend that is accelerating across the country.
“It’s a new era,” said Bob Jaeger, a Metro Detroit native who runs Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places, a nonprofit organization working with churches in Detroit and across the country to help them. to build a stronger case for supporting the rebuilding of capacities as anchors in their communities.
With their stained glass windows, statues and murals, places of worship often tell the story of the immigrant populations who settled in Detroit, Jaeger said.
The money that churches and synagogues spend on their operations also add up, he said, stressing the “Economic halo effect of sacred placesThe Partners for Sacred Places study commissioned from the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, which found that churches have an average economic impact of $ 1.7 million per year.
But beyond that, churches and synagogues bring intrinsic value with their call to serve. They provide a nonprofit package of services that efficiently share space, Jaeger said, from dance groups and daycares to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Almost 90 percent of people benefiting from programs in local churches are not members of the congregation, according to a study by Partners for Sacred Places, he said.
Detroit has hundreds of old churches, some of which have already closed due to lack of funding, Jaeger said.
“Churches need to act more commercially and like other nonprofits. This is part of the reason why people should give,” Jaeger said.
“If they don’t, many, many more will close.”