The First Baptist Church of Los Angeles community is worried an unchecked homeless encampment could bring preaching and praise to an end.
The encampment, on Westmoreland Avenue and Eighth Street in Koreatown, has blocked the entrance of the 100-year-old worship space and sidewalk access to the public, surveillance footage shows.
Scott Arnold, a pastor at the church, shared images of a fire outside the church.
"It almost took out our office," Arnold said. "The problem, of course, is safety for our children, people, seniors and safety for our neighborhood."
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People have been afraid of using the building and have not been renting it for weddings and funerals, Arnold said.
He said efforts to get help from his local city council office get ignored and that he attributes the lack of enforcement of the encampment for the dwindling congregation.
But the office of Councilmember Gil Cedillo told NBC4 they had worked with the church before and were unaware that the mail carrier won't deliver mail there.
"We understand there are many concerns that need attention. We continue to partner with our homeless outreach team to provide services and resources throughout our council district with the goal of reaching a positive and equitable outcome to all that are involved," a spokesperson said in a statement.
The pastors at the church said they have tried helping people who have been living around the church find a safer and more stable place to live – but more often than not – they say they're battling against those unwilling to accept the help.
"We care for people. We have the love of God for all people," Arnold said. "And yet there comes a point where to be able to function and be viable and sustain our life, we have to set some boundaries, deal with problems and not be overrun. And we've been overrun."