Spring 2023 Hope Church Location Updates

The Background
For the first 4 years of Hope's life, we were a portable church. We focused on people and community, setting up and tearing down our worship location each Sunday. While that served us for a time, in early 2018 we grew weary of wondering what we'd find next from Saturday night in our worship location. We needed a visible space and a space for growing ministries and partnering with the community.

We took the leap, and by Easter 2018, we leased a 24/7 space - the space we are today!  

If I'm honest, I (Jennie), had dreams of staying here forever, perhaps purchasing the building and eventually expanding to the bank side and gaining access to the kitchen!
An Unfortunate Building Code
In fall 2022 our annual fire inspection resulted in a long document sent to our landlord, Mike Talkington, requiring a number of updates to the building. He desires a safe building and gladly complied with all them. BUT - there was a new requirement: A fire suppression system a.k.a. sprinklers. This addition would cost over 2 million dollars on a building that is worth $500K.

He was told that the only way to get around this requirement is to remove the church (us) as tenants.

If we stay, they told him, a sprinkler system is needed in the entire building, including the bank side. If we go, a sprinkler system will no longer be needed. It is about usage policies.

For months, our landlord communicated with the City, praying and pleading for common sense to prevail.

On Monday, March 6th, another inspection was conducted with Mike present. At this inspection,he was told that the city would be filing court orders against him for not complying with the requirement. Genevieve Pilon, who works a few hours a week helping to keep our finances up to date, happened to be present during the inspection. After she and Mike sat at her desk, both very distraught.

Mike called me deeply upset. He is not sure how long we will be allowed to stay at this location. He has already asked an additional commercial real estate agent to begin looking with and for us.

Why? What Can We Do?
  • Pray: The discernment of each Hope location has come from deep prayer. We are inviting everyone to pray each day from 5:00-5:15pm specifically about this.
  • Should Hope get a lawyer?: We are the ones impacted by this decision, but the legal issue coming from the city is against our landlord, not us. He has had an attorney for this situation since last fall. It's worth noting that he has invested his time and his money to support Hope Church.
  • What about our lease?: Our three-year lease ended in late March 2020. At that time, prudent to move to a month-to-month lease. However, it is unlikely any lease would solve this.
  • Why now? We have not received a good answer to that question. Indeed we passed fire inspections from 2018-2021. We have not seen most of the paperwork from the city - it has all been sent to our landlord, but we learned there was a complaint about a facebook post in which we celebrated a large number of online-only worshippers. This post was from Spring 2020, when zero people were in the building. I have reason to believe this was a post about online attendance during our first Drag Worship. Communicating, as Mike has repeatedly, that our in-person worship would never reach this number, has not changed the city's mind. They articulate that regardless of actual attendance numbers or past fire inspections, a fire suppression system is needed now.
  • I Know Someone at the City, Should I Contact Them? It can't hurt. The leadership council and Jennie have not been shy to ask questions.
 Next Steps...And Also, Grief.
Grieving involves feeling disbelief and sadness and anger! We bargain and bargain again because we just can not believe it is real. Some Hope Church folx might jump quickly to acceptance. Others will need more time.  That's okay. This is really sad. And seemingly unjust. And it's infuriating. We know that every old building in Bloomington isn't suddenly being required to install a sprinkler system. What caused this for us?
We're in a steel and concrete room! Why are *we* in this position?

The Church is Not a Building...

....says and sings everyone snuggly inside a church building!

But for real. It is not.

Hope Church is YOU.
WE are Hope Church.

We have done this before, and we will do it now. We will support each other, love each other, and at some point, we'll all carry chairs downstairs to a moving van.

We'll do this together.

What's Next?

Time Frame? The short answer is that we don't know. The longer we have to stay here, the longer we have to find another location, without needing to use temporary locations.
We look for a new place to call home. There may be a time we are setting up for a Sunday-only location. It's not ideal, but we can make it work.
Ideas of theoretical locations can be distracting. However, if you know a currently available location for lease, share the listing agent with us!
Axis360 Commercial Real Estate Agents, including our landlord Mike Talkington, are actively helping us  

We can be creative about where we land.
Our non-negotiable is full-inclusion of all people!