Renting Fritchman Auditorium to the Institute for Divine Metaphysical Research (IDMR) – FAQs

First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
Rick Hoyt-McDaniels
Renting Fritchman Auditorium to the Institute for Divine Metaphysical Research (IDMR) – FAQs
September 10, 2017

N.B. After I wrote this report, IDMR told Sonia they are no longer interested in renting our space. They were unable to rent parking they needed from either the Baptist church or the Southwestern School of Law.

I’m sharing this report with you because a lot of the issues would be relevant to our renting to any large congregation.

  1. What is the Institute for Divine Metaphysical Research – IDMR?

The IDMR is a large (500 member) congregation. Their sect was founded in Ohio in 1931 by a man named Henry Kinley following a vision. They hold Pentecostal-style worship services (which they call classes) that feature testimonial from church members. They believe that they practice a corrected form of Christian worship. They believe in supernatural healings, miracles, prophecies that predict the future.   An LA Times article from 1994 reports that the church expected the world to end in 1996. They have congregations throughout the US. Since 1958 their headquarters have been in Los Angeles.

  1. What are their space needs?

They need a hall sufficient to hold several hundred people (Fritchman).

They need parking (our 60 spaces plus renting spaces elsewhere).

They meet four days a week, currently:

Sunday: 9:30-10:30am Sunday School and 11am-1pm Regular Class

Tuesday: 8-10pm

Thursday: 8-10pm

Friday: 8–10pm

They have sound and band equipment that they use during their service so they need a storage space for when the equipment is not in use.

  1. Do we have space for them to store equipment?

Sonia suggests:

½ the area behind the Fritchman stage
1 closet in the Fritchman “green room”
The closet in the Fritchman lobby

  1. Could IDMR share space with the current congregation (Firmes en la Fe)?

Firmes worked out a schedule where they would hold their services in Channing Hall 2 nights a week. IDMR would need to adjust their current schedule to make this work:

Firmes in Fritchman             IDMR in Fritchman

Sunday           10am -1pm                            2-7pm

Monday                                                          6:30-10:30pm

Tuesday         7-9pm (Channing)                6:30-10:30pm

Wednesday    7-9pm (Channing)                6:30-10:30pm

Thursday       7-9pm

Friday             7-9pm

Saturday        7-9pm

  1. What about Firmes’ equipment?

Firmes would need a place to store their equipment during the times that IDMR is using the Fritchman stage. Sonia suggests:

½ the area behind the Fritchman stage,

3 closets in the Fritchman “green room”

  1. Who would be responsible for moving the church’s equipment?

Each congregation will take responsibility for setting up and tearing down their equipment before and after every service.

  1. Could both congregations be in the church at the same time?

Yes.

Parking is not an issue because Firmes does not use our parking. Most of their members live in the neighborhood and walk to church.

Noise would not be an issue because the two nights that Firmes would be in Channing they would hold a “prayer service” and not set up their band equipment.

  1. What staff would the church need to provide?

Currently we have no evening staff. Firmes is responsible for letting themselves in and closing up after themselves. However, we cannot have two congregations with several hundred people using our space without any staff from the church on site.

At minimum we would need one custodian/site manager. This person should stock bathrooms, clean the church, and be able to quickly resolve minor plumbing or electrical problems. And this person should be authorized to deal with tenant issues on the spot, for instance if there is a noise complaint from the neighbors, if the cops arrive, or if there’s an accident in the parking lot, etc.

  1. How much would we pay our custodian/site manager?

5 hours a night, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (5 to 11pm) and on Sunday evenings (4-7:30pm)

18.5 hours @ $15/hour times 52 weeks = $14,430

There would be additional expenses for payroll taxes, etc.

  1. What other expenses would we face?

I estimate $200 a month:

Increased use of utilities (electrical and water use)

Increased wear and tear on the building

Increased use of supplies for bathrooms

  1. What effect would this have on other tenants?

Loss of existing revenue I estimate at $1000 a month

We would not be able to rent Channing Hall on Tuesdays and Wednesdays

to the Young Musicians’ Foundation. Their “Debut Orchestra” pays us about $1,000 a month for using Channing three or four evenings in one week once a month.

We would also need to cancel hey Zumba classes or any other group using Channing on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

Noise is already an issue in the evenings. Adding a much larger, congregation, meeting for longer hours would increase the noise problems. This would put pressure on existing tenants to move out, and make attracting new tenants more difficult.

Or, Firmes might decide it’s too much bother to move their congregation two times a week and decide to rent elsewhere, meaning we would lose their current $2,000/month rent.

  1. What effect would this have on First Church’s identity and mission?

My sense is that we would feel squeezed out of our own space.

Noise problems for the choir, book club, covenant group would increase – all would be meeting while this church is in Fritchman.

Existing office staff, minister and lay leaders would be asked to resolve tenant issues and problems that the tenant causes in the neighborhood such as parking and jaywalking and noise. This would take time and energy away from working on church programs directly related to our mission.

Our building would develop a reputation in the neighborhood as the place where IDMR meets (three nights a week and Sundays). Our smaller congregation would feel marginalized in our own space.

I would not be happy sharing our building with a congregation that is so theologically mis-aligned with Unitarian Universalism. I would not feel that I could be in authentic community with this congregation. I don’t think a congregation like this does justice to our history as a liberal church.

Our church would suffer in public perception, in space available for our own purposes, in time and energy being drawn away from church programs.

  1. How about the financial impact?

We don’t know how much rent IDMR would pay. Sonia suggested $5,000 per month.

INCOME                                                         Monthly                      Annual

Rent                                                    $5,000                                    $60,000

EXPENSES

Custodian/Site Manager                  $1,250                                    $15,000

Other Expenses                                      200                                        2,400

Loss of Existing rental income            1000                          12,000

TOTAL                                                    $1,800                                    $30,600

Our average annual deficit for the last 10 years is $80,000/year. Our current annual deficit is over $100,000. This rental by itself would fulfill only about a third of our need for a sustainable source of income.

To eliminate our deficit from this tenant alone they would need to pay $10,000-$12,000 per month.

  1. So what’s your conclusion?

This rental would provide only a portion of the sustainable income we need.

This rental would solidify our reputation as a rental hall rather than position us as a vibrant thriving liberal church.

This rental would be a detriment to our goal of fulfilling our religious mission as Unitarian Universalists or honoring our history as the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles.

I do not support this idea.