The First Baptist Church of Venice: A Brief History

First Baptist Church of Venice California

First Baptist Church of Venice

This church began as a congregation that met as the Second Baptist Church of Santa Monica, on the third Sunday of July in 1910, with the Rev. R. S. Kelsey as pastor. In February of 1911 the congregation purchased property at Fifth and San Juan in Venice, which had an existing building that had been used as a barn.

The congregation cleaned and refurbished the building and it became the spiritual home of the area’s growing black population. Among the first persons baptised that September were Dolores Burks, Hazel Sercey, Mr. L. Steele, Mr. M. Williams and A. L. Reese, following a joint revival meeting in which the Rev. Mr. Dickson of the Nazarene Church on Brooks Avenue participated.

The Rev. R. S. Kelsey died, in December, 1911 and was succeeded by the Rev. A. Liveley in February, 1912. ln that year the property on San Juan was paid for in full and incorporation papers for the church were filed with the State of California. By 1923 the growing congregation needed a larger church and property was purchased at 688 Westminster Ave. Plans were made for for the construction of the building which began in 1927.

Mrs. Abbott Kinney, wife of the founder of Venice, donated the lumber for framing, the Harvey Brothers donated foundation materials, rock and sand and all do-nations were hauled by the Tabor Brothers Trucking. On June 10, 1928 the new church was dedicated, with the Rev.J. W. Jordan officiating.

A succession of pastors served the ever larger congregation through the years to follow. A parsonage was purchased in 1940 and in 1955 the Rev. E. L. Holmes, who is the present pastor, was called to serve. The lots across the street from the 1928 church were purchased and in October 1966, construction of a larger church and educational building was begun at 685 Westminster.

Dedication services were held in March, 1968. The 1928 building was given to a Los Angeles congregation, and the lot used for parking.

venice, ca black church history

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About the author

Mike Bravo is a 5th generation Venetian. He is an Indigenous Rights activist advocating for the traditional community spirit of this Native land we now call Venice via digital, community, and spiritual creation.
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