Local Church Wins National Preservation Award

Lutheran Church of the Reformation will restore 1934 Art Deco Building

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People share a meal in from of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation (212 East Capitol St. NE). The church is a winner of a national preservation grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places.

The Lutheran Church of the Reformation (212 East Capitol St. NE), a vibrant historic Capitol Hill congregation, has won a national preservation matching grant.

The National Fund for Sacred Places, a program of Partners for Sacred Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced Thursday that the church was one of 17 congregations nationwide selected to participate in a national historic grant-making program supporting capital building projects.

Launched last year with grants totaling $14 million from the Indiana-based Lilly Endowment Inc., the Philadelphia-based National Fund will offer planning grants, professional services, and capital grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 to a minimum of 50 congregations over four years.

The Lutheran congregation will use the grant in its Reformation Anniversary Campaign, an effort to restore the church’s 1934 Art Deco building. Projects will address infrastructure needs such as interior and exterior lighting, façade restoration, fire and electrical safety, ceiling repair, and accessibility.

Reformation’s Senior Pastor Michael Wilker said, “We are elated to have been selected in this program. Over the next two years we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and our 150th anniversary as a congregation. We’ll have a variety of projects that aim to Open Doors, Nourish Souls, and Praise God.”

“Our biggest project is the renovation of our sanctuary building,” he said, “beautiful worship is the heart of all we do. This opportunity affirms our recent mission and facility planning — we look forward to learning more and sharing our experiences with all the congregations across the country that are part this year’s cohort.”

The Reformation Church shares the building at 212 East Capitol St. NE with many Capitol Hill institutions including the Folger Shakespeare Library, Capitol Hill Chorale, DC Different Drummers, River Park Nursery School and Hill Havurah, the Capitol Hill Jewish community. It also hosts three Scout troups, four weekly AA meetings, and a variety of other small groups, in addition to Reformation’s other ministries for youth and adults and its own Food Pantry, which serves about 3,000 people a year.

Chad Martin, Director of the National Fund, says that Reformation was well positioned for acceptance into this year’s cohort, for which over 220 congregations applied. “Church of the Reformation opens its doors to upwards of 150 arts, advocacy, and education events each year. That is simply an astounding level of activity for one congregation,” he said.

“Now the congregation has planned a strategic campaign that will ensure this facility can be an asset to the Capitol Hill community for years to come. As such, we see this as a model project of the stewardship of America’s sacred places and are excited to support these efforts.”

The grant award has to be matched by local donations and grants. The congregation members have already raised the bulk of the matching gift. Neighbors and friends of Reformation can also contribute to the Reformation Anniversary Campaign.