September 2021 Resource

Transitioning Older and Historic Sacred Places: Community-Minded Approaches for Congregations and Judicatories
Transitioning Older and Historic Sacred Places: Community-Minded Approaches for Congregations and Judicatories


Rachel Hildebrandt with Joshua Castano


Sacred Places, Philadelphia, PA

Book Review By:

Melvin Amerson

Premise of the book:
Congregations experiencing decline, facility upkeep challenges, and/or neighbor change, can repurpose or reimagine their facilities to continue and further ministry in new ways while preserving presence and renewing impact.

What this book does:
The authors of this much-needed resource provide a guide for congregations and denominational leaders to assess, process, repurpose, or possibly sell church properties. Throughout this guide, actual congregational stories are highlighted to offer examples and possibilities for churches pondering their future. Also, questions are provided to discern the viability and sustainability of maintaining a facility and ongoing ministry.


Introduction: Preserving the Public Value of Sacred Places in Transition
Chapter 1: Purpose and Goals of this Guide
Chapter 2: Can Our Congregation Continue and Thrive in Our Building? An Approach to Assessing Viability Vis-à-vis the Sacred Place
Chapter 3: Deciding Whether to Stay or Go
Chapter 4: Consider Your Options
Chapter 5: Remaining in Place with New Uses and/or Sale of Nonessential Assets
Chapter 6: Retaining a Presence While Changing Ownership
Chapter 7: Using Financial and Development Incentives to Stay
Chapter 8: Civic Minded Sale Encouraging Community-Minded. Uses When Transition is Complete

What are some important insights:
The authors provide great insights throughout from assessment to process, to potential partnerships. Congregational assessment of community needs, purpose, and facility usability are very important in consideration of strategic partnerships.

Possibilities as a resource for churches:
This is a must-read for clergy, lay leadership, and denominational leaders who seek to repurpose or reimagine facility usage for ministry and community impact.

Melvin Amerson

The Rev. Melvin Amerson is a member of the Texas Annual Conference and serves as a Resource Specialist and Area Representative at TMF. His experience and passion lie in encouraging and developing generous, faithful leaders and congregations.

Amerson is the author of Celebrating the Offering, Fruit for Celebrating the Offering, and Stewardship in African American Churches: A New Paradigm, as well as several articles covering topics from generosity, leadership, and visioning. He served as a board member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center until it was dissolved in 2021 and is currently serving on the Texas Annual Conference Church Leadership Team. He is a nationally recognized generosity consultant known for his engaging presentations. Beyond strengthening congregational leaders, one of his favorite ways to use his skills is to empower Wesley Foundation staff to effectively fund their college ministries.

Melvin obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, an M.Div degree concentrating in Christian education from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, an Executive Leadership certificate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and a certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University. Recently, he completed a fundraising certificate with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.