Sacred Places Indiana

Preserving Historic Houses of Worship

Our Sacred Places Indiana program trains congregations to fundraise—not the traditional fish fry model—and leverage their historic buildings for outreach and growth.

  • Allen Chapel AME Indianapolis by Evan Hale
    Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in Indianapolis. Photo by Evan Hale
  • Saint Rita Catholic Church, Indianapolis
    Saint Rita Catholic Church in Indianapolis (photo: Evan Hale)
  • Temple Israel Terre Haute
    Temple Israel, Terre Haute
  • St Anthanasius Byzantine
    St. Athanasius Byzantine Church in Indianapolis.

Saving Grace

Americans aren’t going to church like we used to, especially not to older churches in center cities—a societal change that presents a tough preservation challenge in addition to the religious one. Churches are among the most historic, architecturally distinguished, lavishly ornamented structures in a community, and when congregations shrink, maintenance suffers and landmarks become threatened.

To deal with a steadily increasingly volume of calls for help from congregations in historic houses of worship with restoration needs, we created Sacred Places Indiana, with Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places, supported by funding from Lilly Endowment.

Sacred Places Indiana selects up to ten congregations each year for intensive training in landmark stewardship, community engagement, and fundraising. Since its inception in 2015, Sacred Places Indiana has advised dozens of participating congregations. For these participants, Sacred Places Indiana serves as an advisor, cheerleader, and trouble-shooter, offering technical expertise, training, and grants to help congregations maintain their historic buildings.

Indiana Landmarks’ regional directors conduct preliminary assessments of the congregations’ historic buildings, and David Frederick, director of Sacred Places Indiana, works closely with the participants to enhance their community engagement, strategic partnerships, and space-sharing potential. Many current congregations have shrunk over time, leaving large church buildings with excess space that might be rented to a compatible nonprofit.

After four training sessions and assignments over a nine-month period, including preparation of a fundraising case statement, the congregations are eligible to compete for Sacred Places Indiana grants for planning and capital improvements.

Learn more about the program by contacting David Frederick, director, at or 317-639-4534.

inspiring stories

Read about efforts to save, restore, and celebrate historic houses of worship and other sacred spaces around the state. Find out more.