Building

Our building is a home and resource for a dynamic group of programs and organizations who partner with us to preserve this historic structure and project our ideals of justice, spirituality, and art into the community of the Boston metropolitan area.

We thank the Massachusetts Historical Commission for a $50K matching grant from its Preservation Projects Fund for repairs to our alley wall, part of which has been standing since 1861.  Thanks to consulting architect Lynne Spencer, Senior Warden Penny Lane, co-chairs of the Together Now campaign Gail Abbey and Jim Bradley, chair of the Building Commission Michael Scanlon, and all who helped submit the grant, which will allow us to keep the roof over the heads of so many worthy groups who call Emmanuel home.

We are also glad recipients of a Green Improvement Grant from the Diocese’s Together Now funds. $7.5K  will be used to insulate heating pipes in the basement,  complete fabrication of interior storm windows, and begin replacing toilets with water-saving, dual-flush models.

As is often the case with urban churches, Emmanuel Church was built for a large and affluent congregation, which migrated to the suburbs during the mid-twentieth century, leaving a small congregation responsible for a large, historic, and expensive edifice. Emmanuel Church views its building as a resource, not only for itself, but for the larger community of the city of Boston, and has found that by careful management and partnership with a wide variety of programs and institutions we have been able to maintain our historic building while supporting our missions of Social Justice and the Arts.

Although in a typical week the congregation of Emmanuel Episcopal Church holds only one worship service, on the building calendar one finds between 30 and 40 events of many different types, run by many different organizations, and in addition it provides a home for a women’s shelter, an outreach program for homeless men, two resident artists, and, of course, offices for Emmanuel Church, Emmanuel Music, and Central Reform Temple. Sometimes it seems like Grand Central Station in the lobby! Taking Wednesdays as one example, the morning starts at 6 A.M. with worship by our friends “Spring of Boston,” an organization of young Korean Presbyterians. There is a full day art studio for homeless people, as well as Boston Benevolent chiropractic, who treat the homeless; two of the many AA chapters who meet at Emmanuel; and rehearsals for the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. Thus the building serves hundreds of people in the course of the day, almost every day. Organizations which use the building are affiliated with various faiths, or are completely secular, our choice to be in community with them is based on the good work they do.

The building commission manages the building very aggressively to achieve maximum economy and minimum environmental impact. We monitor the building systems very closely and have reduced our energy consumption significantly in recent years. We have developed a comprehensive “building manual” to aid the efficient running of the building and schedule maintenance on a proactive basis. We manage this by utilizing staff from Community Work Services, an innovative organization which helps adults transform their lives through employment, thus we support their mission while they support ours.