Tabernacle United Church

Progressive Christianity for a change

United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church (USA)

3700 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104 - 215-386-4100 - Worship Sundays at 10 AM

We are called into compassionate community, Following Christ, Advocating for peace,
justice and reconciliation And celebrating God's loving embrace of all creation.

Tabernacle United Church Rental FAQ

(Frequently Asked Questions)


How do I hold a wedding at Tabernacle?

For information specific to weddings, see our Wedding FAQ.

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How much do you charge to rent space at Tabernacle (for non-wedding events)?

Community Room (public space on the ground floor adjacent to the entry hall and kitchen):
Up to 4 hours - $150
4-8 hours - $200
Over 8 hours - $250 a day

Sanctuary (our cozy upstairs chapel):
Up to 4 hours - $250
4-8 hours - $350

Kitchen - $50 a day

For information specific to weddings, see our Wedding FAQ.

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Are there any other fees?

We require a $75 security deposit and $50 key deposit at the time that you pay for use of the building (before your event). The key deposit is refundable upon the return of the key; the security deposit is refunded unless the building is not left in good order, as per the rental agreement.

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When can I look at the space?

The regular office hours are 10 am to 3 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. You should always call to make an appointment to see the building at a time that is not overly busy.

You will not be able to meet with someone outside of the office hours, in the evening, on weekends, when the office is not open (holidays, regular closure days) or when the space is in use by another group. Please rearrange your schedule as needed to visit during an appropriate time.

If your proposal is approved, you will also need to come in during our regular business hours to acquire a key before your event and to be trained in our building opening/closing procedures, as well as being instructed in the operation of the elevator.

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Can I rent the big sanctuary on Chestnut Street for a large event?

Tabernacle's old, large sanctuary is no longer outfitted as a worship space but has been converted into the Iron Gate Theatre. Touring the theatre or renting the theatre or basement rehearsal space is handled through the offices of the Perelman Quad.

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What if my group can't afford the rent?

The Council occasionally waives/reduces the fee for groups that are in line with Tabernacle's mission (or "mission partners"). If you hope to have the fee waived or reduced based on these criteria, include this information in your proposal. (See What should I include in my proposal?)

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How do I rent space at Tabernacle?

All requests by outside groups must be approved by the church Council, which meets ten months a year (January-July and September-November) on the second or third Tuesday of the month. Please submit a proposal for your group to tabernacle@tabunited.org so that the proposal can be included on the agenda of the next Council meeting. (See When should I submit a proposal?)

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When should I submit a proposal?

The Council convenes in the second or third week of months when they meet, so sending your proposal at least two months before the event is a good idea, especially if you plan to promote the event with flyers or on social media, since you will need time to publicize it.

For instance, if your event is at the end of April, submitting your proposal before the March meeting (or better still, before the February meeting) gives you enough time to promote your event after you have received the Council's decision (or to find another venue, if necessary). If your event is at the beginning of April, the January meeting is an even better time for your proposal to be considered. Don't wait too long! (Remember--there are NO August and December meetings.)

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What should I include in my proposal?

  • The dates/times of your event (include padding for set up and clean up)
  • Which space(s) in the building you hope to rent (Community Room and/or Sanctuary)
  • A title for your event (or working title)
  • The name and nature (for-profit, not-for-profit, nonprofit, etc.) of the group organizing the event
  • The chief contact person AND person who will be responsible for opening/closing the building
  • Whether you wish to use the microphones in the Sanctuary (if appropriate)
  • The general purpose of the event (fundraiser, organizing meeting, etc.)
  • Your event's format (lecture and discussion groups, for instance, or concert and reception, etc.)
  • Why your group is in alignment with Tabernacle's mission, if you hope to have the rental fee waived or reduced. (You may still be required to submit key/security deposits.)
  • The number of people you hope/expect to attend
  • Whether you will be charging an entry/ticket fee to the event
  • Whether you will be serving food (and are also applying to use the kitchen)
  • Whether you plan to use the nursery facilities for childcare (You provide the childcare personnel.)
  • Whether you plan to use either piano, in the Community Room or Sanctuary. (Tabernacle does NOT have an organ of any kind.)
  • Whether you would like to use two off-street staff parking spaces during the event.

All proposals should be sent to tabernacle@tabunited.org well before the proposed event date. (See When should I submit a proposal?)

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Is the building wheelchair accessible?

The front driveway (on Chestnut Street) provides wheelchair access to the walk that goes around the building to our door (on 37th Street). Our elevator provides access to the second level, where the Sanctuary is, as well as the restrooms (both are unisex and one is wheelchair-friendly). The elevator is operated with a key included with the building key; the person responsible for opening and closing the building is trained in the operation of the elevator before the event in question.

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Is there parking?

Tabernacle does not have a parking lot. There are two off-street spaces for staff that may be used during your event provided you request use of those spaces in your proposal. (See What should I include in my proposal?) When using these spaces, please park a maximum of TWO vehicles as far west in the space as possible, to avoid blocking wheelchair access to the building.

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What should we tell people about how to reach the church?

See the Directions page on our website for detailed driving directions and/or for taking public transit to reach Tabernacle.

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Are animals permitted?

Only service animals are permitted in the building.

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Can my group serve alcohol during our event?

No.

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How many people can the space accommodate?

Community Room

  • Sit-down meal: Our tables and chairs can accommodate a maximum of 80 people. (This leaves no spare tables for a buffet--if you plan to use a couple of tables for a buffet, that will reduce the headcount to 64-68 people who can sit down to eat.) The seating is mostly upholstered stacking chairs, augmented by some metal folding chairs.
  • Lecture: If the tables are flattened and stored at the back of the room and all available chairs and pews in the Community Room are used, 95-100 people can be seated in the space.
  • Reception: If you are serving light refreshments from a couple of buffet tables and planning for people to stand and mingle, the Community Room can legally accommodate up to 120 people.

Sanctuary

The pews and front chairs (for worship leaders) can accommodate up to 160 people. (NOTE FOR WEDDINGS: This number includes everyone expected to be in the sanctuary, including officiants, musicians, wedding party, etc. So if the people participating in the wedding totals 10 the maximum number for guests is 150.) The balconies are NOT available for seating due to the fire code requiring two points of egress (each balcony has only one).

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Is there air-conditioning?

No. Floor fans keep the air moving in the summer, and there are also ceiling fans in the Sanctuary.

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Do you have a movie screen, white board, projector, or microphones?

The Sanctuary has a large pull-down screen at the front. You will need to provide your own portable screen for the Community Room. You will also need to provide a projector in both locations. We do not have a white board.

There are microphones available for the Sanctuary; if you wish to use these, specify this in your proposal and select a person in your organization to be responsible for doing a sound-check and putting the equipment away again after your event. That person will also need to come to the church before your event, during regular office hours, to be trained in using the equipment.

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If we rent the kitchen, what does that cover?

  • You may use our refrigerator/freezer to store refreshments ON the day of your event (not before).
  • The stove and microwave may also be used; please read all cautionary signs in the kitchen concerning responsible use of these appliances.
  • The portable dishwasher is NOT available for use by outside groups.
  • You may use our coffee and hot-water urns; you provide your own coffee, tea and condiments.
  • You may use the church's dishes, mugs, flatware and serving pieces, but must hand-wash and return all items to the cupboards after use.
  • You must take all unused food, outside tableware and other items with you after your event is over. Do not leave any food or other items in the church. Please see the rental agreement for clean-up guidelines. Tabernacle is not responsible for items left behind by outside groups.

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Is there wi-fi?

Tabernacle's wi-fi is for the use of church employees and members only.

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Are there events that CANNOT be held at Tabernacle?

We do not host events that, overtly or by implication, endorse a particular political candidate or party. We do not host events designed to promote political or religious views contrary to Tabernacle's mission (which is why the Council approves all groups wishing to rent space).

Events that include organizing to lobby politicians or other entities ARE sometimes held here, again when such lobbying does not run counter to Tabernacle's mission or include endorsement of a political candidate or party.

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