The National Fund for Sacred Places, a program of Partners for Sacred Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced on Oct. 18 that it has accepted Church of the Epiphany, East Los Angeles, as one of 17 congregations nationwide to participate in a national grant-making program that supports capital building projects at historic houses of worship.

Launched last year with grants totaling $14 million from the Indiana-based Lilly Endowment Inc., the Philadelphia-based National Fund will offer planning grants, professional services, and capital grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 to a minimum of 50 congregations over four years.

Chad Martin, director of the National Fund, says that Epiphany was well positioned for acceptance into this year’s group, for which more than 220 congregations applied, citing its long history and connection to the Chicano Rights Movement. “We believe this project is of national importance for the stewardship of America’s sacred places,” says Martin. “We hope this award serves to elevate this history nationally, and supports the vital public impact of Epiphany’s innovative programming.”

Epiphany began in a Romanesque-inspired building in 1883. Thirty years later, in 1913, architect Arthur Benton incorporated the structure into a larger design that featured Gothic and Mission Revival styles. In 2005, Los Angeles named the church a historic landmark.

The congregation will use awarded funds to renovate the basement, an artifact in itself. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, it functioned as a hub for the Chicano Rights movement and its newspaper-turned-magazine La Raza (currently featured in an exhibition at the Autry Museum of the American West).

The Rev. Tom Carey, Epiphany’s vicar, says that news of the National Fund award “was a relief” because the church “houses a lot of activity without much space.” Basement renovation will allow “for the expansion of our legal clinic and more meeting rooms where our community can gather.”

The final grant amount will be determined upon the completion of the technical support parts of the program, including training and project consultation. Other awardees include Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Methodist Episcopal, and UCC congregations in Alaska, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Epiphany is the only Episcopal church and the only California church among the 2017-18 grant recipients.

The National Fund for Sacred Places is a program of Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Partners for Sacred Places helps congregations and others with a stake in older religious properties make the most of them as civic assets in ways that benefit people of all faiths and of no faith. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, protects significant places representing diverse cultural experience by taking direct action and inspiring broad public support.