Join the Fight to Save the Historic First Baptist Church of Venice

Join the fight to restore the historical First Baptist Church of Venice as a community space.

Join the Fight to Save Our Historic African-American Landmark

The First Baptist Church of Venice, CA

The First Baptist Church located at 685-687 Westminster Avenues is 109 years old and the first spiritual and social refuge space for African-Americans in Venice fleeing extreme racism dynamics in the South.  The church which is part of the ceremonially dedicated corner called E.L. Holmes Square was purchased by families who put up their land trust to purchase the property back in 1910. Mind you this is 45 years after slavery was abolished and in time of racial covenants and KKK still highly active in political leadership in West Los Angeles

This historical Church corner was fraudulently sold and is now under the danger of being reduced to a private home for millionaire Jay Penske. We are working to have the sale rescinded and the First Baptist Church property restored to its original function as an uplifting community space in the spirit of our Black ancestors who built it. In keeping of the spirit of the spiritual community gathering we continue to meet every Sunday at 1 PM.  We come together in a good way for sharing vision and dialogue on restoring this historic landmark and building community.

Venice, CA First Baptist Church History


Some Quick Facts

  • The First Baptist Church of Venice at what is called E.L. Holmes Square on the corners of  7th and Westminster Ave. has been a community spiritual space, refuge, and institution for over 108 years and that space.
  •  The church’s original edifice was located across the street at 688 Westminster. The current edifice representing the church was built in 1968 at 685 Westminster. Again, both at E.L. Holmes Square on 7th/Westminster Ave.
  • In 2000 the intersection of Westminster Ave & 7th Ave in Venice was designated as a permanent ceremonial location and named Bishop E.L. Holmes Square after the longtime pastor of the First Baptist Church of Venice.
  • In January 2017 the church property was fraudulently sold by pastor Horace Allen. January 2017 is also the last month the church was open to the public. The pastor then sold it to Jay Penske, son of automotive billionaire Roger Penske, and his wife, former supermodel Elaine Irwin.
  • Real estate broker Chris Quintal represented both the buyer and the seller in the transaction.
  • The congregation filed a lawsuit against charlatan pastor Horace Allen for the illegal sale of the First Baptist Church. The lawsuit is still pending.
  • The sale of the church was done covertly. No public notice or real estate sign was put up on the property to notify the local community it was being sold.
  • In October 2017, the real estate sector dominated Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC)  unanimously voted to approve the Penske’s plans for “adaptive reuse” of the First Baptist Church property even though the sale is in legal dispute and pending verdict. Not one VNC member referenced the historical and spiritual significance of the church space. In fact,  all we have received from them after their inconsiderate decision are  belittling comments and lies from VNC Vice-president George Francisco and board Member Wil Hawkins.
  • In August Councilman Mike Bonin promised to helps save the First Baptist Church of Venice. To date he has been silent and a no-show in keeping his word to help us.
  • June 20th,2018: Our Save Venice First Baptist Church Coalition recently won a moratorium on the change of use from Church to Residential pending land use zoning issues.
  • We have a follow up Hearing Wednesday August 15th, and West LA Area PLanning Commission. Please Join us if you can. Sign the petition if you havent already and spread the word.

What YOU Can Do to Help

Contact Councilman Bonin

Contact Mike Bonin, tell him to keep his word and continue on the path set by Ruth Galanter to designate First Baptist Church of Venice as a historical landmark. Respect Black History in Venice !


E-mail City Planning

Tell them Designate the First Baptist Church space as a landmark and No Mansionization in Oakwood in whatever terms you prefer.

Reference these numbers in the title.
CASE N0#DIR-2017-1895-CDP-MEL
CEQA NO#ENV-2017-1896-CE


Call Radio Station KJLH

Ask that Reverend Horace Allen’s show on Sundays at 6pm be taken off the air because is being sued by elder church members for an illegal sale of First Baptist Church of Venice. Case# BS159555 was filed in Stanley Mosk Superior Court. Please let KJLH (102.3) know that you do not support this charlatan minister.

Call 310-330-2200

Join Our Weekly Sunday Vigil

We meet every Sunday from 1pm-3pm at the First Baptist Church (685 Westminster Ave.  Venice 90291) to bring attention to this important community issue to gather and organize in a spiritual way. All spirituality and worldviews welcomed to join us.

Upcoming Events

september, 2018

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Sign The Petition!

Join Us at the August 15 Hearing,

Stop the Destruction of Venice!
Please consider donating to the Lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles.