When High Places Community Church purchased the Historic Grove Theater in 2004, the reality was we were outgrowing our space on Outer Drive. The reality was the Grove Theater was outside of our budget. The reality was that the theater was deteriorated to the point where many in the community wanted it torn down. These were great challenges.
But by grace, we looked at these realities through another lens: Faith. There are many whose Faith made the transition into the Grove possible, many others who helped make restoration possible. Some are with us formally, some are with us informally, and others are no longer with us. But without their Faith, The Grove Theater would be nothing more than another crumbing building in town.
The building was a wonderful gift that came at a time we needed more space; a gift that came with an opportunity to give back. Very early into the process, High Places decided to make The Grove Theater free and open to the entire community. We knew firsthand how hard it was to find qualiy space on little to no budget & our commitment has always been to help ease those burdens.
Our faciliy philosophy is simple:
The Church has always been and will always be made of "living stones." A builing is just a building or a tool, but the church is people. High Places was never meant to be a physical address. It is the people who are sacred, not the bricks and mortar of a building.
In many respects we view this facility as a gift by which we have been blessed. We believe it is our responsibility to use it to bless others. The decision not to charge is a sincere one and it comes with no strings attached.
Facility restoration is a WINDOW into a much different idea of community space, community diversity, and community economics. Some peer into that window and see it; some don't. But we believe this is about much more than restoring a building. It is the medium through which we are called to restore something more.
Ownership of shared spaces can be messy & in our messes we are often required to stretch and grow together - developing the character qualities of love & sacrifice which we believe were revealed in the person of Jesus.
Occasionally someone will comment on the "money High Places must be making" on the theaters. The truth is we are not and it has never been our intention to do so. Church members currently underwrite approximately 80% of the theater's total annual operating expenses while making up only 22% of it's total use. Church members invest approximately $12,000 annually to keep the doors open in the large auditorium alone.
While committed to a 'no-charge' policy we also welcome contributions of all kinds from those who wish to share in the theater's expanding service and vision -- from scheduled work days to expertise in light & sound, to making financial donations to assist with keeping the lights on and the doors open. Better yet, all are invited to get in on the mission to transform the way our society views and treats shared spaces, such as the theater which records roughly 10,000 visits per year by people who love the Arts. Catch the vision, spread it around and help pay it forward for a better Oak Ridge, East Tennessee, and world!