Oh, how grateful Susan and I were when architect Margaret Westfield called our office on Dec 5th to inform us that our church had been selected to receive $50,000 from the State of New Jersey towards the development of our Preservation Plan! A few days later, the official notification through the New Jersey Historic Trust arrived.
What does this all mean? Apart from the financial support, it mainly means one thing: our church is not only historically worthy of support, but also it has public relevance through its ties to the community and our wider culture. Thatâ€™s why we had to submit documentation of all our outreach activities: the Menâ€™s Shelter, the Lunchtime Recital Series, the interfaith work with our Jewish and Muslim partners, the Special Needs Confirmation Class, and many other ministries. It is also reassuring that the jury saw enough administrative and financial potential in our church to entrust us with the investment of a grant.
How will the process develop from here? In late January. 2008, the NJ Historic Trust will forward its recommendation to the New Jersey legislature which has to approve the award. Then the bill goes to the governor for his signature. Sometime between spring and fall, we will receive the grant agreement for review and acceptance.
This may seem like a long process. But look at the bright side and the many fruits we have harvested along the way: pledges from 95% of our congregation, an overwhelming number of responses from the churches of our denomination, commitments from two Volunteer Offices of our denomination, and a renewed surge of energy among ourselves and the Property Committee in particular. It is not far fetched when I say that the new pew cushions, the painting and air-conditioning of Fellowship Hall and the imminent installation of the new sound system in the sanctuary are all â€œchildrenâ€ of the Preservation Project.
And in the meantime, we will not sit idle but apply with the NJ Historic Trust for the much larger Preservation Grant. This will allow us to leave the planning stages and to begin real brick-and-mortar work.