Noe Valley Voice December-January 1997-98

Golden Gate MCC Puts in a Bid for Bingo

By Erin O'Briant

There may be a new bingo parlor in Noe Valley if the city allows the Golden Gate Metropolitan Community Church to hold weekly bingo games at its storefront church at 1508 Church St.

The mostly gay and lesbian church, which moved to Noe Valley in September of 1995, is about halfway through an eight-week application process with the city. The two main Catholic churches in the neighborhood -- St. Paul's and St. Philip's -- already sponsor bingo games.

"We're looking to supplement our income short-term," says Rev. Sharna Sutherin, Golden Gate MCC's pastor. "This is not to be ongoing -- we plan to do it for a year and then reevaluate. We need to bring in more money to keep having this space for the community, and if we can have bingo, we hope to make about $500 to $1,000 per month."

Because the space only holds 70 people, Sutherin predicts that the games will not cause a major disturbance in the neighborhood. The events will take place on Friday nights only, and will be run by volunteers. The church plans to charge $10 to $15 for a large packet of bingo cards. "It will be enough games to play for at least 21/2 hours," says Sutherin.

Because bingo is a legalized form of gambling, the city is cautious about granting permits. And though it's too late to submit written information either supporting or protesting the application, the public may still attend a hearing Dec. 13 at 1 p.m. in Room 551 at the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant St.

"We're interested in everyone's opinion about the bingo games," says Sutherin.

She also notes that St. Paul's bingo games have been temporarily moved to St. John's gymnasium on Mission Street while the church builds a new school on Church Street. (St. Paul's construction project is expected to last about a year.)

Sutherin says MCC would not have considered starting its own bingo night if St. Paul's games were still being held in Noe Valley. "We're newcomers here," says Sutherin, "and we don't want to alienate anyone."