New Home

704940_10151689070191788_1400716551_oI am so excited to share some good news with you regarding our search for a new home.

After a three-month intensive search, the Real Estate committee has found a opportunity with First Congregational Church of San Francisco-United Church of Christ, 1300 Polk St. (at Bush), whose congregation is looking to share their beautiful building with another congregation.

On Nov. 30 at 11 a.m., we are invited to a welcoming worship service and open house hosted by Rev. David Cowell, Designated Minister, and his congregation at FCCSF.

During this visit, you will have an opportunity to experience this spiritual space in worship, to ask questions, tour the facility, and be welcomed with the warm embrace of Rev. David and his congregation. (MCCSF’s service will be cancelled on Nov. 30 so that we may attend the event at FCCSF.)

How did this come about, you ask?

A full FAQ can be found here, but the short version is, we were blessed with a miracle. Our team had called nearly 50 churches, synagogues, public and community spaces, and yes, even a couple of bars throughout San Francisco. We were either declined or got no response; many churches already were renting to other churches or otherwise unavailable. We looked into commercial rental properties as well, but pricing is through the roof in San Francisco, especially in any neighborhood where we would hope to settle. It was looking grim.

And then came a miracle. The word about our search had apparently gotten out, and a few weeks ago, we got a call from Rev. David at FCCSF. His congregation has been looking to welcome another theologically liberal congregation to use their lovely facility. After some preliminary discussions, we both thought this might be a good fit for both congregations and wanted to take the next steps. Let us be clear: This is not a merger; each congregation would retain its own identity and denominational affiliation.

We would love for you to join us as we explore this exciting opportunity. Please plan to join us on Nov. 30 11 a.m. for worship and an open house. We really want you to meet this friendly congregation, and to experience this beautiful building before we make any decisions about our future. Your feedback will be part of this process. Please email the board at mccsfboard@gmail.com, or contact board members with any questions. A suggestion box will also be set up in church. This potential relocation option will be brought up for a vote at the congregational forum in December.

I ask that you prayerfully discern this opportunity.
Peace,
Maureen Bogues, Lay Co-Leader, MCCSF Board of Directors

New Home FAQ – 1300 Polk Street

How will this affect our worship times?
MCCSF Sunday worship times will change to noon and 6 p.m.

What is the background of First Congregational Church of San Francisco?

The church, which now has a devoted congregation of about 60 members, has a rich history in San Francisco, where it was founded during the Gold Rush. FCCSF has had four previous buildings in its 165-year history; the current building was built for them six years ago.

What does a “two churches in the same space” arrangement look like?
MCCSF will have access to worship space, offices and storage. The congregations will maintain their own separate identities, and may collaborate on an occasional event or service. More details will be settled if we choose to move forward.

Were there other opportunities with other churches?

Yes, St. John’s (also a UCC church), and Bethany Methodist. St. John’s has a small, traditional sanctuary and no office space. We have not yet explored Bethany; their phone call came after the call from FCCSF.

What were some of the parameters of our search for space?
MCCSF needs about 3,500 square feet of office and worship space. Our next location needs to be close to public transportation and affordable (for us, somewhere between $5,000 to $6,000 per month).

What kind of spaces did you look at?
Churches and synagogues; public and community space; commercial rentals. Over a period of two months, Irene and the team contacted 36 churches and synagogues and were either declined or received no response. The committee reported to the MCCSF board that relocating to another church building was starting to seem unlikely, as many churches had already combined and were renting to other churches.

The team also contacted nine public or community spaces, including public schools, parks and recreation, Kanbar Center, the Lesbian-Gay Center of San Francisco; the Women’s Building. No long term guaranteed space was available. Prices ranged from $4,000 to $7,000 for worship and office space, and the worship space was only accessible on Sundays so we would have needed to do complete setup each Sunday. This option was possible but really not optimal to be in a space where would have to set up a worship space every week and/or have our offices in a different place from our worship space.

An online commercial real estate review showed that the only affordable places-ranging from $3,000 to $17,000 per month-were in Bayview or Dogpatch. Space in the Castro ranged between $21,000 to $28,000 per month minimum.

More details on commercial rentals:

  • Need to have a public assembly permit for any rental, which a vast majority of commercial property won’t have.
  • It takes six months to get a permit and it triggers requirements for seismic upgrades, sprinklers, bathrooms and off-street parking spaces (1 for every 10 congregants).
  • Property owners would expect us to pay for upgrades and to pay rent while we upgrading so we could move in.
  • It would require 6 months plus upgrade time with staff totally devoted to building renovation, and MCCSF paying $150,000-plus for likely upgrades on property we were only renting. This did not seem like a prudent use of our resources.

Did you look outside of San Francisco?
No, but we were starting to think about South San Francisco and Daly City. We also started calling any business that rented event space, including a couple of bars.