Estimates suggest that 1/3 of Canada’s faith buildings could be in danger of closing. The United Church of Canada reports one building closing a week while the Anglican denomination forecasts a trendline toward a complete loss of members around 2040. The Community Space, Faith Place or No Space for Community two-year study gathered new data through surveys of existing nonprofit organizations and groups that make use of faith-building space. This data enabled us to examine a series of core questions about how faith-building closures may impact community user groups including: Where will twelve-step groups, social services, services for equity-seeking communities, food banks, blood donor clinics, arts groups or community meetings go in the absence of faith buildings?
With the funding support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the City of Toronto, a collaborative team of institutional members designed and executed a survey project to learn more about the impact of faith-building closures on nonprofit and community groups at a local level. The survey asked the user groups in the faith buildings a series of questions to determine the nature of the use arrangement, financial commitments, and what their alternative locations might be if the building they were using closed. Check out the ARC-GIS interactive map for more information on invisible infrastructure behind Rural Communities.
No Space for Community
The Value of Faith Buildings and the effects of their Loss in Ontario
The pioneering nature of the Community Spaces in Faith Places survey has deepened our understanding of the complex, beneficial way that faith community buildings support the life of their local communities and neighbourhoods. It has also revealed that there is a lot more work to be done to extend that understanding.
"If we fail to adequately understand these changes – representing both challenges and opportunities – we may well lose vital community capacity that will not be easy or even possible to replicate."
Many community leaders and networks of nonprofits, charities, and faith communities have raised these concerns in various ways. There is an opportunity in our current moment to make critical decisions that will see access to community space increase, rather than contract, in the coming months and years. Read the full report to learn more about the survey and the relationship between faith buildings and the community around us.
Kendra Trinity-St. Paul's United Church
February 22, 2020
Working as the General Manager of Trinity-St. Paul’s the past six years, I have seen many non-profit and community groups create gorgeous works of art, major events, life-changing exercise, and learning classes, and meals galore. It’s been a wonderful, messy melange of community and a great deal of fun.
You know what hasn’t been fun? Ensuring all those groups were insured (ensuring insured, there’s a tongue twister). I get it. It’s annoying, hard to understand, expensive and takes time.
Our Regeneration Works: Places of Faith project works with rural and urban places of faith to create community spaces that are both viable and successful. Whether the goal is to keep the doors open or make strategic real estate decisions that serve the faith group and the community, the National Trust and Faith & the Common Good offer hope, inspiration, and solutions based on our work from across the country.