MARTINEZ (KPIX 5) — Each week, church members come to the Second Baptist Church in Martinez to worship, but their faith in the building is being tested.
The church backs up to Alhambra Creek and heavy storms have eroded the bank nearly to its foundation. The property lost its retaining wall in a 2005 flood and the problem has steadily worsened over the years.
The concrete walkway now hangs precariously over the creek and inside the church, the floor is cracked and the kitchen slants dramatically.
“Common sense tells us that we cannot continue,” said church treasurer Clarine Merritt. “At the rate this is going we’re going to be gone. We’re going to have to find some other place to worship.”
The cost just to level the foundation and build a new retaining wall would be about $250,000 – money the working class congregation doesn’t have. The city says property owners are responsible for their half of the creek but the opposite bank is protected by a concrete cover built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940’s.
Founding church member Bobby Boyd thinks part of the blame should be on them. “When they did that wall on that side they should have done this side too,” said Boyd.
This 57-year old church provides food and comfort to the poor and down-and-out. But now, in a city that spent money to protect a beaver’s dam on the same creek, the church seems to be on its own. Associate Pastor William E. Smith thinks that’s ironic. “People can do more for animals than they do for people, and that’s sad,” said Smith.
“We want to remain here in Martinez,” Associate Minister Dolores McCrary said. “And so, we’re just appealing now for some help with our building and our grounds.”
The church has set up a PushPay account online and is hoping the public will donate enough to make the repairs and keep their building from slipping away.
If you would like to contribute to the repair fund, visit https://pushpay.com/pay/secondbcofmartinez.