All photography provided by Gregory Wagenfuhr
The 21st Century is presenting a number of serious challenges to churches of all kinds.
As the United States and other Western cultures adapt to the increasingly world–defining role of technology, we are finding that the social function of traditional religion has moved to specialized secular institutions. Churches once operated as community centers, schools, news outlets, places for social networking, health care providers, and distributors of funds for social security and disaster relief. Most of these functions have been handed over to government agencies and other NGO’s. Our age has been called “Post–Christendom” because it is a period after the global church provided social definition and unity in cooperation with state authorities. Citizens of the 21st century have a hard time understanding the former role religions have played in human society and tend to see only moralizing, judgment, and condemnation in churches.
As a result of this shift, about 4,000 church institutions close every year in America, as their attendance and finances decrease and their congregations age. Many churches have failed to identify their core mission and identity through the wide variety of activities they provide.
In rural America, closing churches only contributes to the decline of rural communities by further reducing property values and perceived community health. Architecturally, America stands to lose many valuable properties to the ravages of time and weather, as communities are unable to keep up buildings with little or no future use–value in areas with low property values.
The Historic Church Conservancy of Fremont County is a 501(c)(3) non–profit organization that aims to proactively meet the challenge associated with the church architectural assets of Fremont County. Our aim is to preserve, protect, and advance these buildings. This means that repurposing will be done in accordance with the intent of church buildings, all of which were built for far more than worship services. Repairs and renovations will aim to increase the usability of these facilities for future generations while maintaining their historic character, in concert with the Colorado State Historical Fund.
On behalf of the founding Board of Directors, I hope you find that this prospectus demonstrates the value of this major revitalization project to our community and that you will consider supporting this endeavor, especially through giving or volunteering as a board member.
Revd Dr G.P. Wagenfuhr,
Past President and Cofounder (for 2017)