Church leaders ask for help to save Martinez church from sliding into creek

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Pastor Ray Montgomery watches a golf ball roll from one side of the kitchen floor of his church to the other, demonstrating how the floor is sloping.

His Second Baptist Church in Martinez is in jeopardy of falling into a creek behind the church, due to soil erosion caused by flooding. The church needs half a million dollars to repair the damages and stabilize the embankment.

"We could potentially be the 'Katrina of Martinez!' That's a reality! If we don't come up with a solution to stop the erosion," claims Pastor Ray, as he prefers to be called.

Pastor Ray has been pastor of the small community church on Las Juntas Street for the past five years. He says the major erosion began 14 years ago, caused by a series of floods.

The city made repairs downstream to fix some of the problems. But an embankment installed 30 years ago on the other side of the creek is making the problem worse.

"With the reinforced embankment on the opposite side, when the floods came, we were the embattled banks, if you would, that lead to the erosion over a period of time," says Montgomery.

The city helped church leaders apply for disaster relief.

"We went from city, to the county, to the state, to the federal level. So, we went and did our due diligence," he says. But they didn't qualify.

And being a small, community church ruled out the possibility of getting a loan. "It doesn't sound like a lot of money, but to a small church and small community, it might as well be a billion bucks," says Pastor Ray, adding that his is not a megachurch with the ability to raise huge amounts of money.

Clarine Merritt has been coming to Second Baptist for almost 40 years. She says, recently, she has seen a small drop in people attending because of the current issues.

"They are afraid. And they have every reason to be afraid. When you look at the conditions out there, it's frightening," she explains, who was attending Bible study at the church.

But she wants to remind people how over the decades, this church has helped build this community, often providing valuable resources like free clothing and food for those in need, and programs for those suffering from addiction. She hopes the community will "reciprocate the favor" with even small donations to help the church raise the funds necessary for the repairs.

To donate money to the cause you can go here..
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