116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMANA — The Amana Church has been selected to receive a matching $70,000 grant that will soon help the church to preserve its historic buildings, built in 1864, for the 21st century.
The National Fund for Sacred Places, a program managed by Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced the Iowa County recipient among a list of 15 churches. Over eight years, the fund will be providing $20 million to more than 100 congregations. This year, the highly competitive grant included recipients like the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and St. Ann & The Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, New York.
“Organizations like the Amana Church Society have a true commitment to service, offer tremendous civic value to their community, and these congregations are well poised to grow and thrive in the future,” said Bob Jaeger, president of Partners for Sacred Places. “We look forward to working with … the Amana Church Society to restore their buildings, help preserve an important piece of history and support their expansion of their community offerings.”
The church has begun a fund drive to match grant dollars and finish rehabilitation projects at both sites. The grant will be used to construct new accessibility ramps at the Amana Church in the Village of Amana, replace 28 windows, repair wooden window frames, remove asbestos siding and repair or replace soffit, fascia and gutters.
To make a contribution to the Amana Church Society’s fundraising efforts, mail a check payable to: Amana Church, P.O. Box 103, Middle Amana, IA 52307. Make note on contributions that the donation is for the church’s Our Sacred Space Fund Drive. All donations are tax-deductible.
For more information on the project, visit amanachurch.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Amana Church is a wonderfully unique building in that it has been used continually since 1864,” said Emilie Hoppe, a church elder for 20 years. “We don’t place much emphasis on the physical trappings of worship — it takes place in the heart. The exterior harmony of a room is meant to uphold and reflect the interior harmony of your prayers and worship.”
The wood frame Kinderschule building to the east of the Middle Amana Church also will receive repairs and upgrades, allowing the Amana Colonies Food Pantry to move out of the basement of the Middle Amana Church. The project will include installation of an HVAC system, electrical wiring and window and exterior improvements. Built during Amana’s communal era as a preschool and day care, the building is currently unoccupied.
The pantry, which serves about 40 families in Iowa County and the surrounding area, has outgrown its basement location. Its new location will offer easy access, a separate entry with more room for freezers and refrigerators and a free community space for social gatherings.
“We need to prepare for our community today and our community tomorrow,” Hoppe said. “We call it a community. Church doesn’t adequately express our community ethos.”
The congregation of more than 350 people was established in Germany and Switzerland in 1714 by a group that came to be known as the Community of True Inspiration. The Inspirationists were persecuted because they advocated freedom of speech and worship, refusing to send their children to church-run schools.
In 1842, four members migrated to a tract of land in upstate New York, which they named Ebenezer. When more farmland was needed for the growing community of then 1,200 members, leaders found land in Iowa.
In 1855, the community migrated to Iowa to build a village, naming it Amana from Song of Solomon 4:8 — Amana means “to remain true.” By 1880, Amana was the largest communal society in America.
“We are exceedingly grateful for this incredible opportunity and are blessed not only by this grant, but all the more, by our inspiring membership who has made all this possible in God,” said Alex Momany, president of the Amana Church board of trustees.
The church hopes to start evaluations this year and construction next year, planning to complete the first stage of work by mid-2023.
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