Looking for help for above

Nora UU Church seeks funds for belfry, window repairs

The Nora UU Church belfry (belltower) is in need of repair. Recognized by Partners for Sacred Places as a significant Nordic Heritage site, the church received a $15,000 grant for urgent structural needs. A grant stipulation is that an equal or greater amount of money be raised.

Nora Unitarian Universalist Church was awarded a $15,000 grant in June for urgent structural needs including belfry (bell tower) and window repairs. Recognized as a significant Nordic Heritage Site by Partners for Sacred Places, a grant stipulation is that the church raise an equal or greater amount as a match. Early estimates for belfry repair are $18,000 plus $25,000 to repair leaky and inoperable windows.


Nestled on a majestic, small, wooded hill among oak trees, a half-mile southeast of Hanska, Nora Universalist Church has served as a beacon for liberal religion, inclusivity, and social action for 137 years.

The church draws members from a wide area of southern Minnesota including New Ulm, Mankato, Windom, Worthington, and many small towns.

Last June, Nora Church was recognized by Partners for Sacred Places as a significant Nordic Heritage Site and awarded the grant.

Nora Unitarian Universalist Church Rev. Lisa Doege, left, and Nora UU Church Board Member Jeanie Hinsman stand in front of the church on the National Register of Historic Places.

As photos show, the church’s belfry is in dire need of refurbishing. Due to leaky, inoperable windows, the church is only heated on Sunday morning during the winter. The continual temperature change causes concern for the church’s grand piano. In addition, driveway draining issues will be repaired.

“The Nordic Heritage grant in an opportunity for us to be good caretakers of what our ancestors have provided,” reads a Dec. 10 letter from the Nora UU Church Board of Directors to friends of the church.

“The preservation of this beautiful, simple, wood structure, whose cornerstone was laid in 1881, is calling for our love again,” the letter continued. “…We are devoted to maintaining this historic landmark and continuing our role as a spiritual home for seekers like us.”

Past church projects paid for with the help of gifts, included shingling the parsonage, replacing a furnace and digging a new well.

Last spring, the Partners for Sacred Places contacted the UU Church, inviting it to apply for the grant after finding it on the National Register of Historic Places. The church board applied for the grant and got it.

Part of the grant involves asset mapping. Last September, several people attended training in Sioux City, Iowa. On Dec. 5, a woman with the Partners for Sacred Places organization met with the local group for a brainstorming session.

“Part of the project involves not just recognizing our heritage, but looking into our future. What more can we do and how we can be a better presence to the community,” said Nora church board member Jeanie Hinsman.

Beginning in January, a free, monthly community meal will be sponsored by Nora Church and served in the Liberal Union Hall at the north end of downtown Hanska.

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. Their programs and services value and respect the spirituality and faith of all congregations that open their doors to the community.

Designed to stimulate success, Partners changes the way congregations view their role so that their sacred place remains a rich and vital part of the social fabric of a community. Partners helps congregations leverage existing and new resources, solidify their continued relevance, and ensure their own sustainability. Partners is a national, non-sectarian and not-for-profit. Visit www.sacredplaces.org


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