When Gianfranco Grande got the email, he was on vacation in Vienna with his wife. “I need to answer this,” he said to her.

Gianfranco is Executive Vice-President of Partners for Sacred Places, a national non-profit which has helped congregations in all 50 states maintain their historic spaces and remain a vital part of the social fabric.

Gianfranco has consulted with thousands of churches. His schedule is packed well into the future. So why did he choose to take time from his European vacation to answer an email from another church?

Because the email came from First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh.

Of course, it’s Gianfranco’s job to know historic churches, so maybe it’s not that surprising that he already knew about us, about the unique beauty of our building and the amazing history of what God has done through this church. Not long after Gianfranco answered my email, he was on an airplane to meet with our session and staff to talk about partnering with us in determining the feasibility of a capital campaign.

Why a capital campaign?

The biggest need is the roof. The Vermont Green Slate, built to last 125 years, is 114 years old. Rusted drain pipes allow water to seep behind stone walls. Layers of dirt block over half the light coming through the magnificent Tiffany windows.

Old buildings have accessibility issues. The only handicapped entrance is in back, a hundred-yard trek from the front steps. Steam pipes are 114 years old. The church’s mission to the city might be dramatically enhanced by a new kitchen and cafeteria space and other improvements. There is no shortage of challenges. And given our location in the heart of a thriving downtown, there is also an abundance of opportunities.

This week, Gianfranco and his colleague Sarah Jones began conducting interviews with congregation members and members of the community. They’ll report to us in a few weeks on the feasibility of raising the funds needed to build for the future.

I have met people all over the country who know the beauty of our building and the impact this church has made. Let’s dream together about how we can preserve and build on this legacy for future generations.

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