Ocean Park Church will be celebrated for its history of local activism

The Santa Monica Conservancy is hosting an event this weekend highlighting the rich history of the Ocean Park Church and exploring its role in many of the city’s progressive movements.

The event is part of the Conservancy’s ongoing Santa Monica Mosaic virtual lecture series, which aims to tell the stories of the people and places that make up the community. The series was launched three years ago in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements.

“We focused on the composition of Santa Monica,” said Libby Motika, a longtime conservation volunteer who helped organize the events. “We’ve covered every community that has had something to do with Santa Monica’s history, starting with the Tongva – the indigenous group – through the ranchos period, the Jews, the Japanese, the more contemporary Mexicans These pieces – these communities – make up what we call the mosaic, which is Santa Monica.

Ocean Park Church was founded in the Methodist tradition in 1875, but has evolved into the pluralistic and inclusive organization it is today.

“The Ocean Park Church is a hybrid creature,” said Janet Gollery McKeithen. “It is a multi-faith community, which means that we are religious expressions of Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Hindus, indigenous people and combinations of all of these. We believe that all people have sacred value.

In addition to Sunday services, the Ocean Park Church is also home to a wide range of programs, including an annual Queer Prom, women’s empowerment group, Girl Central, and Rockstar Kids, a program for children with disabilities and their parents to make connections.

The Conservancy chose Ocean Park Church as the focal point for this upcoming event because of its longstanding presence in the community and its focus on social justice.

Although not explicitly a fundraiser, the event will also raise awareness of the church’s efforts to raise funds to repair its damaged ceiling, which has rendered the building unusable for the past 10 years. month.

“We are interested in architecture, we are interested in progressive philosophy and we hope, in a very small way, that this program will bring attention to the church and its campaign to restore the ceiling,” said Motika. .

Motika will host Sunday’s event, which will include a presentation on church history by Conservancy Board Member Nina Fresco and a panel discussion between Pastor McKeithen, Roger Gawne, a former Head of Programs LGBTQIA+ from the church, and Julie Ginsberg, a parent involved with the Rockstar Kids program, who was among those most affected by the lack of a physical place to meet.

The event’s entry money will go to the Conservancy, but McKeithen hopes attendees will be more inclined to donate to the church’s ceiling repair fund.

“I hope they understand that the community is missing an important asset while the building is closed,” McKeithen said. “I hope they will do what they can to help Ocean Park Church reopen the doors to the community.”

The event will take place on Sunday, August 28 at 5 p.m. on Zoom. General public tickets are $10 and can be purchased on the Santa Monica Conservancy website www.smconservancy.org/event/an-enduring-spirit-the-church-in-ocean-park. Admission for Conservancy members is free.

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Harold B. McConnell