In October, a small meditation center in rural Dane County called Joyful Path put out an SOS.
If it didn’t quickly raise $45,000, it risked losing its home in a historic building in the village of Blue Mounds. The money was needed to refinance the nonprofit group’s mortgage on the building.
The center turned to the online crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com and launched a 45-day campaign. The campaign ended Dec. 12 with the center raising $46,099, or 102 percent of its goal. More than 200 people contributed.
“The first day, we were kind of numb,” said Lisa Antoniotti, a Buddhist monastic whose ordained name is Pema. “We’re just so pleased and so appreciative.”
The sum will allow the center to stay at its current site, she said. And with the group’s finances now stabilized, the all-volunteer staff can turn its attention to additional programming, she said. A contemplative support group for cancer patients is among the new offerings.
Here are updates on other religion stories that made the news last year:
• In April, Jose Flores, then an 18-year-old senior at St. Ambrose Academy in Madison, gave a speech to classmates and guests at his Catholic school on being what he called “an almost-seminarian.”
At the time, he was assessing his career options. He’d been accepted to both UW-Madison and the University of Dallas but also had applied to pursue the priesthood through the Madison Catholic Diocese.
The diocese indeed chose him last fall as one of seven new seminarians. Flores now attends Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota.
• Last summer, Sugar River Methodist Church in Verona was considering a move from its leased space in a former city library building to Wildcat Lanes, a bowling alley that had fallen on hard times.
The church ultimately closed the deal and has been holding services in the former bowling alley since September. Remodeling will be ongoing for many months, said the Rev. Gary Holmes.
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“It’s always challenging to live in a construction zone, but people are really excited,” he said.
The church is selling wood from the bowling lanes on Craigslist.
• A September article explored the dwindling number of church organists in the area and across the country. The article previewed an organ recital at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Sun Prairie to raise money for scholarships for organ students.
The concert raised about $1,800 in freewill donations from the 120 people in attendance, said Julie Shipe McClain, chairwoman of the scholarship committee for the Madison Association of Church Musicians, which sponsored the recital.
“It was a very positive response,” she said.
The theme for next year’s organ recital already has been chosen. Organists will perform pieces they’ve composed themselves, and a book of the compositions will be sold as an additional fundraiser, McClain said.
• Another concert, this one in November, raised money for Ebola relief efforts. The Rev. Julius Brent, a Liberian national and pastor of Hope in Christ Assembly in Madison, led the effort. In October, he lost a brother to Ebola in Monrovia, the Liberian capital.
The concert drew about 60 people, fewer than hoped for, but Brent said many people who saw media reports about the concert sent money even if they couldn’t attend. Nearly $3,500 was raised.
While Brent and his wife, Kula, live in Madison, their five children remain in Liberia. Kula was hoping to visit them in December but had to postpone the trip due to the Ebola outbreak. The couple now hope she can get there sometime in mid-2015.
“Things are getting much better over there,” said Brent, adding that his children are all healthy. “The rate of infection has dropped.”