We don’t always think of our meetings as tenants, but we are, in a way, tenants of the churches and hospitals and other buildings that host our meetings. I was taught early on that it is important for our groups to be good tenants of the buildings we use. If we are good tenants, we will continue to be welcomed and treated well. If we are not good tenants, we will rightly be tolerated at best or kicked out at worst.
I was thinking of this recently when reading the new annual contract from Skipwith United Methodist Church for one of our meetings there. For about a year now we have been required to lock the outside door fifteen minutes after the meeting begins. It’s not always easy to remember to do, and we don’t have to do it on Tuesdays, because there’s a big AA meeting that day and the door stays open for that. But it is important to the church, so it needs to be important to us. They have a building to care for and liabilities to be concerned with, and it is their call. We need to follow the rules of our landlord.
Similarly, it was a year or two ago that the pastor of the same church spoke to a couple of OA members, asking them to have the meetings consider raising their rent. Costs for heat, air conditioning, light, insurance, custodial services and supplies, and maintenance continue to rise; we have to be conscious of this. We were asked to leave Brookland United Methodist Church when they found that utilities costs were just too much for them to handle, given our needs for heat and air conditioning during the middle of weekdays–not times they would normally heat or cool the church.
I’m a little concerned, too, that we sometimes treat our meeting places like clubhouses–for instance, meeting with sponsees for an hour before or after a meeting. That meeting time and space is not really ours; in general we have the room for an hour, with a few minutes before and after for setup and cleanup. If we need extra time in the meeting place, I think we should reserve it and pay for it.
If the building has a going rate for space, we should be paying that. Many of our hosts don’t really have a going rate, and they just ask us to donate what we can. But we should really give some thought to what our meetings can donate, and consider raising the payments if we haven’t done that for a long time. Your group might consider discussing this at the next group business meeting.
Susie H., Intergroup chair