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Transforming historic churches into community hubs

 

The Trinity Centres Foundation is a new not-for-profit organization for Canada; its aim is to see 100 historic church buildings converted into community hubs to be used as “incubators” or “accelerators” for the charitable and community sectors.

Our model is to partner with the owners of historic church buildings to provide project development and building management which retains ongoing worship space usage on Sundays. Various government and charitable partners are then invited to be part of a new “community hub” concept, attractive to new categories of social impact lending.  Heritage buildings will first be made safe and usable and later sensitively developed to a modern, world-class standard also suitable for conference, event, concert and wedding activities that will lead to local centres becoming financially self-sustainable.

The Foundation’s Board of Advisors is a team of 50 professionals from across the social innovation, urban planning, property, finance, management, accounting, legal, government and faith sectors.

Trinity Centres Organization Flow chart
 
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“As we recognize the dangers of loneliness and isolation, now is the time for these community buildings to rediscover their historic vocation. The Foundation represents the ‘A-Team’ of some of the brightest thinkers and practitioners from around the world, looking to build a robust new management model starting from a blank page. Quebec is the North American capital for closed church buildings and that’s why we’re starting here.”

Graham Singh, Executive Director of Trinity Centres Foundation

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“The Trinity Centres Foundation] represents an opportunity for the innovative and progressive character of both Montreal and Quebec to shine, through the foundation of this national movement.”  

Jacques Chagnon, MNA, President of the National Assembly of Quebec

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“Church buildings represent one of Canada's most under-utilized large asset classes. Within this new Foundation, Canada's financial and property sectors are coming together to look at how we can increase community and charitable utilization. In doing so, we are creating a new phase or category of infrastructure which builds core Canadian values of friendship and neighbourliness.  It is time for this new model, and it is my privilege to be part of an expert team of volunteer advisors using our skills to make this happen.”

Jason Barrett, Executive Director of CIBC Asset Management

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“Building and facilitating genuine and authentic community networks has proven to be the most effective way of growing social cohesion and countering the toxic narrative of extremism and organised crime. The Trinity Centres Foundation comes out of UK learnings about the opportunity for church buildings as one part of building such networks and from across the Atlantic, I encourage this Canadian exploration.”

Peter Wilson, Director, Counter Terrorism, Serious Organised Crime, British Government

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“ Our main activity is the care of souls, not buildings; yet, we have a significant number of urban spaces to manage. We need to continue to find ways to serve the wider community without obliterating our main mission. I am grateful that the Trinity Centres Foundation has been born out of this huge challenge,
and I look forward to working out how we
connect with this secular partner, to help our faith
work across Canada.
Denominational leaders like me are seeking radical new models, but
we also face significant organizational constraints. Could you help us to navigate this shift? “ 

Mary Irwin-Gibson, MBA, Anglican Bishop of Montreal

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“Many thousands of faith buildings face an uncertain future, and they matter to more than just the faithful. For heritage advocates, the challenge – and the opportunity – is to find new uses, new partners, and new ways to fund long term upkeep. The Trinity Centres Foundation has a vision and a business model to sustain some of these landmark structures as 'community hubs', tapping into new and different funding mechanisms that have not been widely used by (or typically made available to) historic places of faith. It’s that creative thinking about financing that is making us take notice.”

Natalie Bull, Director of the National Trust for Canada

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“I am pleased to support this innovative approach which can help ensure the longevity of these important heritage buildings and may allow for sources of funding that would not otherwise be available to a religious institution.”

Marc Miller, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Government of Canada

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Watch CTV Montreal’s June 2018 local news story on pilot site, St Jax Montreal.

Listen to CBC's The Doc Project's documentary on our pilot site, St Jax Montreal, aired on the 5th June 2018

Read Graham' Singh’s recent interview with Faith Today, Canada’s Christian Magazine.

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