Current Programs

The Church in Ocean Park is unique.  It is here that people of various or no faith tradition, come together to help create change.  Providing a safe place where people can understand one another is always important, but particularly in the current political climate when hate is being skillfully used to organize against equity.  The Church in Ocean Park is a multi-religious community and so also provides the opportunity to explore various faith traditions in a safe environment.  At a time when religious minorities, people of color, people with disabilities, people in the LGBTQIA+ community and women are being demeaned and objectified, The Church in Ocean Park provides a supportive and educational community where people can wrestle with life’s questions and challenges, and work together to help create positive change.

 

All of our programs are community programs.  Not only are they open to all, but are envisioned, initiated, planned and carried out by hybrid leadership teams:   people who are very involved in CIOP already and those who have never been a part of CIOP at all.

  1. Girl Central
    This is an empowerment program that was born out of the Girl Central program at the now closed Santa Monica YWCA. It includes education, advocacy, community building, field trips and fun! It also includes Girls Who Code, Dance and Yoga. Girls find supportive community, learn to honor themselves and realize their power to make healthy life choices. Through Girls Who Code, they develop strong useful skills that will propel them into the future.

     

  2. LGBTQIA+
    The Church in Ocean Park fought against Proposition 8 over a decade ago.As a result, leaders of the Gay Straight Alliance at Santa Monica High School contacted Rev. Janet to be a part of an assembly and a partnership was born. This connection has resulted in the development of 10 years of Queer Proms, LGBTQIA+ Book Readings, Movies, Advocacy and support. Recently, we partnered with the City of Santa Monica to establish name change grants for transgender folks. Our relationship with Black TAQ (Transgender and Queer)led to the creation of a candle light vigil together, remembering Trans folks who’ve been murdered. Black TAQ friends have become members of CIOP and sometimes lead in the Sunday morning services.

     

  3. Children’s Peace Camp
    Peace Camp offers life-transforming programs in order to create a more peaceful and just community and world. It provides peace education to young people, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged. It fosters leaders with skills and experience to make a difference locally and globally, and enhances self-development of people for achieving life success. 

     

  4. Committee for Racial Justice (CRJ)
    Ten years ago, a black student was chained to a locker by 2 white students in the wrestling room at Santa Monica High School.There was a noose with a brown dummy hanging in it nearby. After a 3-week cover-up, the incident was leaked, and members of the Church in Ocean Park and others headed to the School Board meeting and to speak up. Rev. McKeithen announced that there would be a community gathering at The Church in Ocean Park on a specified date. A group of community folks and CIOP folks came together to plan this gathering keynoted by the Rev. James Lawson. Monthly community workshops have been held ever since then (now in Virginia Ave. Park). The focus of CRJ is dismantling systemic racism in 4 critical areas: in the schools, in the city, in the criminal justice system and in housing. Members of CRJ can be found working for justice in government meetings, in the offices of elected officials, in educational workshops, in courthouses and in the streets.

     

  5. CRJ Book Group
    The Committee for Racial Justice Book Group reads and discusses anti-racist books with a diverse group of participants. They meet at least once a month, and sometimes more often. Here are some of the books CRJ book group has read:














     

  6. The Encouragement Group
    The Encouragement Group Justice for Cliff Workshop is a group that supports people who have experienced loss. The group's founder, Donna Brown created the group after the sudden murder of Donna's son, Cliff Jr. Every month a group of people gather together to share their losses, concerns, and feelings surrounding loss and their attempts to find joy again in their lives.   During the pandemic by way of Zoom, The Encouragement group has encouraged healing, spread awareness, collaborated with other local grassroots organizations and provided resources. This time became increasingly important with so much loss during the pandemic.  In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, The Encouragement project took part in peaceful & safe protesting and spoke out for change, while also creating safe spaces for open dialogues.  The Encouragement Group meets monthly with topics such as Suicide, Domestic Violence, Depression, Dealing with Anxiety and much more. 

     

  7.  Rockstar Kids
    The Church in Ocean Park provides a safe space for Kids With Disabilities to dance, run, sing, watch movies, eat and play, while their parents connect and support one another.  These “Rockstar Kids” are loved unconditionally here as the whole, complete beautiful people that they are.  This group was not able to gather during the pandemic and cannot gather now until the ceiling of the church’s sanctuary is repaired.  While many of the other programs found a way to zoom, this program could not.  The safe, familiar space is important to this group.  We hope to gather again when the ceiling is replaced.

     

  8. Choir Music Director, Louise Dobbs creates community through harmony for an hour, once a week.  The variety of music is conducive to people of all ages, faith traditions and abilities.  This group brings joy to themselves and to anyone lucky enough to hear them.  Everyone is welcome to this magical space where everyone can sing in beautiful harmony.
     

  9. Connecting Circles
    In March of 20 2020, we stopped gathering as a congregation due to the pandemic. Our days suddenly looked different, and were confusing to plan. The Church in Ocean Park quickly created 8 Connecting Circles, each led by a trained facilitator. The people who came together had various or no connections with the Church in Ocean Park, so some participants hadn’t met one another prior to their first Circle meeting, and new and old friendships have flourished in the Circles. Connecting Circles meet once a week for grounding, accountability, connection and growth. Many of these groups have continued for almost 2 years and new circles have formed.

     

  10. Tuesdays at @2          
    In an effort to provide a healing space for CIOP congregants and others during the pandemic, Tuesdays@2 was created. Every week a group gathers for healing, education, creativity or ritual. This is a time for learning new skills or new ways to care for ourselves and others. Some offerings have been singalongs with CIOP musicians, cartooning and painting with artists, learning Qigong, practicing Reflexology and acupressure self-massage, Communion, poetry reading and writing, drawing “zentangles” for relaxation, learning about autism, and much more.

     

  11. Rituals
    People in the community feel deeply connected to the Church in Ocean Park for a variety of reasons. They may have organized here or danced here or created change here. They may have celebrated births, weddings, rites of passage, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Bodhi Day or Yom Kippur. They may have attended our annual Passover Seder dinner or celebrated at Communitas. Often, there are a mixture of faith traditions within a family. The Church in Ocean Park creates rituals that are appropriate for each family, according to their wishes, including memorial services and weddings. There are not many places with the experience and leaders to honor people in this wholistic way.

     

  12. Dance
    The Church has a long history of being a home for amazing dancers of all kinds - back to the current CIOP's earliest days in the '70s when dance and theater were the Church's main offerings. "Free dance" has been a popular group one or two weeknights per week for many years. Girl Central offers Hip Hop classes, and the congregation regularly dances during Sunday morning services! 

     

  13.  Yoga
    With a strong tie to several master Yogis and a friendship with Loyola Marymount University, the church has hosted yoga groups in its main sanctuary as well as being home to the Hill Street Center for Yoga and Meditation. Private teachers and large, free community groups have all practiced in the light, airy sanctuary space and in the cottage next door, which grew to found its own successful nonprofit for practitioners of Yoga and meditation. Girl Central also provides yoga for girls in middle school through high school.

     

  14. Fancy Dress Swim
    This annual event of the church puts the fun back in fundraising. Participants don the "fancy" garment of their choice and jump into the Pacific Ocean to raise funds for the purchase of mosquito nets to prevent malaria. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the bed nets, and only a few dollars can buy enough nets to protect an entire family in an underprivileged country. The Church in Ocean Park Swim has been an inspiration.  Several other communities now have Fancy Dress Swims, patterned after and connected to ours.

     

  15. Philippine Task Force
    After the Church in Ocean Park minister and others developed ties and made visits to the Philippines, the church realized the dire situation in the Philippines was directly related to decisions made in the United States.  This group works with Filipino groups in Los Angeles and in the Philippines in an effort to end the extreme poverty and murders that the US is contributing to.  This task force supports the Filipino community and works with elected officials who are in positions to change some of the damaging policies.

     

  16. Musical Events
    From Grammy winners to rock concerts to gospel choirs, the church has a bright sound to its main gathering space that makes it ideal for concerts and sing-alongs. The Church in Ocean Park was home to Sanctuary for incredible local bands and the people who love them. There are folk concerts, peace concerts and singing on Sundays. Anyone who has ever attended even one event at the church knows that if we were to be known for nothing else, we LOVE to SING! Our philosophy is that everyone has a good voice, and all it takes is a safe place to find it. 

     

  17.  AA Groups and other 12 step programs 
    The church has been home to most every 12-step group imaginable - debtors, alcoholics, people addicted to substances, hoarders, and others. Very large groups and very small groups that are not welcome or cannot afford to meet in other Santa Monica spaces have been consistently welcomed at the church over the decades. The church offers a healing space that has literally been part of the transformation of tens of thousands of lives since the '70s. 

  • Alex S. Vitale, The End of Policing 

  • Kelly Lytle Hernandez, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965

  • Beverly Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, and Other Conversations about Race in America

  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation 

  • Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist

  • Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

  • Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas

  • Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent

  • Heather McGhee, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

  • Joy Degruy, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

  • Brendan Kiely, The Other Talk