Religious institutions have served both as a platform for the advancement of women’s rights and opportunities, and women have played critical roles in advancing religious traditions. The leadership and community building opportunities within these sacred sites have been critical to increasing female independence outside of the home and allowing women to develop institutions that strengthen their congregations and broader communities. The four historic houses of worship highlighted embody positive examples of how the histories of women and religion are inherently linked.
The vast quantity of postcards depicting historic houses of worship is best evidenced through the James R. Tanis Collection of Church Postcards. The collection of more than 20,000 postcards illuminates the range of religious architecture in the United States from monumental cathedrals to one-room meeting houses. Read more for a postcard tour highlighting the history and significance of select congregations in the National Fund for Sacred Places.
No one could blame any members of Christ Church Lutheran who thought Eliel Saarinen would decline their invitation to design their small church. But the internationally known architect said yes, possibly drawn by his background as the son of a Lutheran minister as well as the request of the pastor, the Rev. William Buege, for “an honest church.” See inside this historic church in this photo essay.
Fire poses one of the greatest risks to historic places. In the 1990s, a new solution was developed in Finland to mitigate the risk of fire, reduce subsequent water damage, and prevent major disruptions from installation: HI-FOG mist fire suppression systems. This innovative technology has protected historic places worldwide, including Holy Ascension of Our Lord Cathedral in the remote community of Unalaska on the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.
Houses of worship may not be the first places that come to mind when thinking about institutions that uplifted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, as many LGBTQ individuals across the nation and the world have faced discrimination as a result of the policies of organized religions. Although discrimination against this community has not been extinguished from religious institutions, an increasing number of religious groups in the United States have taken firm steps towards welcoming and advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
There is a kind of perfection in the name “Urban Grace” for a church located in the concrete heart of a city. In Christian theology, the concept of grace has been the subject of debate, but the overarching idea is that of undeserved divine favor and love. More secular meanings include beauty, kindness, and, if used as a verb, the act of bringing honor and credit to a location.
The National Fund for Sacred Places, a program of Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, works to help many of America’s most significant congregations advance the care and use of their historic properties.
Often built in the center of town near the local post office or town hall, rural churches were designed with community gathering in mind. In small towns like Sheridan, Wyoming, and Abbeville, South Carolina, with populations fewer than 20,000 people and congregants living across wide geographic regions, going to church meant reconnecting with friends and family, accessing free resources, and participating in service projects to better the region.
Gleaming stained-glass windows with images depicting familiar Bible stories are to be expected in most Christian churches. But a closer look at the windows at Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, reveals something else.
Judson Memorial Church has always been dedicated to the diverse communities of New York City, and, thanks to the National Fund for Sacred Places it hopes to continue with its mission and expand its reach for years to come.