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Lessons From Lincoln Square
Wed, 01/16/2013

The story of the Lincoln Square Synagogue’s financial disaster in constructing a new building (“Lincoln Square Gamble: If You Build It, Will They Come?” Jan. 4) presents a lesson for all congregational leaders about the risks of succumbing to the “edifice complex.”  

A congregation outgrows its home, and the board of trustees commits to build a larger, grander, and more comfortable edifice. Meanwhile, congregants are apt to be driven away by the pressure of fundraising, an activity that is fiscal and not spiritual. Throw in the risks of bad contracting practices or mis-estimation, and the congregation may erode to a size that fits with space to spare into the original edifice.


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