Ocean Park Church is in desperate need of donations to repair its ceiling after a section recently collapsed, rendering the building unusable until repairs are made.
Reverend Janet Gollery McKeithen said the building is off-limits to the many community groups using the site until the work can be completed and the cost is estimated at around $100,000. She said the damage is age-related and not covered by the Church’s insurance policy.
“So we first thought we’d just fix this little place that fell down, well it was kind of a big place, and it was during COVID, so luckily it didn’t hit anyone in the head because it was just where people sit and stuff like that so we had to fix one place before and the insurance company when we thought they were going to pay for it demanded an appraisal , so we did a thorough evaluation and it shows three different reasons why the ceiling is likely to fall in different places and basically the whole ceiling is likely to fall.
She said the assessment did not indicate a specific cause but rather an overall degradation of the ceiling.
“If it had been caused by a certain thing, we could have gotten insurance, but it’s just decay and aging, so they won’t cover it.”
Until repairs are made, the building cannot host any services or programs.
The church hosts many community groups for regular meetings or specialized activities, including Girl Central, Girls who Code, the Committee for Racial Justice, Climate Action Santa Monica, Queer Prom, AA, Grief Counseling, and the Santa Monica Special Needs Parents Network.
Julie Ginsberg, co-founder of the Parents’ Network, said her organization has benefited greatly from the generosity of the church.
“Janet has been amazing,” she said. “She allowed us to host there and we had four dances before Covid started. [The network] is run entirely by volunteers, it’s just a group of parents supporting and paying for it and Janet gave us the space for free.”
The network used the church to organize regular information meetings for parents who needed support and for special events such as movie nights.
“It was amazing because here you have this huge indoor open space where the kids are safe and no one cares, there’s no judgment, it’s a beautiful community that she gave us permission to help build and give us a house,” she said.
Ginsberg said his organization met outdoors during Covid in accordance with health rules, but the structural damage is a blow to his group as many children loved the events.
“It would be amazing if we could go back to the church, the kids know the space, they know Janet, it’s a safe space where they can be themselves,” she said.
The church is an interfaith community with Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Atheist activities. They celebrate a variety of holy days as well as Transgender Remembrance Day, Mental Health Awareness Month, Bodhi Day and more.
Rabbi Diane Rose, the spiritual leader of Cool Shul, said the Church was a second faith for her.
“I love this community so much and the way we practice Judaism is a very universalistic way and the way they approach spirituality as the interface church suits us so well,” she said.
Rose said the two organizations have held events together and worked together in the past.
“I really admire the community and love the work they do in the world and Pastor Janet is such a force for good in this town and we desperately need him,” she said.
To donate, visit https://gofund.me/a554333b.