MUNCIE, Ind. — For the second straight year, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Muncie is not only the “sickest all-ages hardcore venue in the city,” but also open at 11 a.m. for Sunday services, according to church board members.
The Church, as it has become known throughout local subcultures, has risen to prominence as the scene’s premier venue. Many community members attribute The Church’s rise to their new management group, who is actively involved in the local hardcore scene.
“Our church welcomes all people, regardless of race, gender, or nationality. Whatever you are, you have a place at our services, and no matter if you’re old school, beatdown, indie rock, or even modern rudie, you have a place at our shows,” said Max Grimsmo, the Unitarian Universalist minister and show promoter, backstage at last Friday’s show. “But that doesn’t mean I’ll just book anyone. If you can’t really bring it, you can take your bush-league crap down to the College Avenue Methodist Church.”
Many members of the hardcore community attribute the success of The Church to their straightforward business practices and fan-friendly floor plan.
“It’s kind of the perfect venue. You know you aren’t going to get hosed by some shady promoter. The Church takes 50% of the door, and a 10% tithing on all merch sales,” said Conner Sumptner, a high school junior and merch kid for local punk band Tight Skinz. “But it’s so worth it. The stage height is perfect for diving, the PA works great most of the time, and the lobby is spacious enough for me to set up a full merch table and my cassette distro.”
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While the hardcore scene has found The Church to be the perfect space, other members of the greater Muncie community note they’re not alone. Congregants of the Unitarian Universalist Church reportedly appreciate the same aspects of the space, albeit for different reasons.
“The acoustics are fantastic here. I’ve never heard a choir sound better!” said Carol Gantler, a grandmother of five and retired school teacher. “And this lobby is the perfect place to have a cup of tea and catch up with your friends.”
While it’s typically not uncommon to stumble upon a DIY hardcore show in a church recreation hall, Grimsmo believes his church-turned-venue is different.
“I like to think of my congregation as a family. I have always felt family is so important to a community, and I’ve never met a group of people more obsessed with the idea of ‘family’ than hardcore kids,” said Grimsmo. “I think it’s this commitment to family that makes this partnership work, and the quality experience people have at my venue — ah, my church — reflects that.”