(Run-on sentence warning–take a deep breath!) I’ve been meaning to go for a bike ride through the less-civilized section of Los Angeles (known as South Central) to visit the landmark site associated with the beginning of the riots that erupted 20 years ago following the acquittal of police officers who had been accused of using excessive force while detaining a dangerous criminal named Rodney King.
Yesterday turned out to be the right day!
Along my 72-mile ride, I actually encountered multiple gunshots, but not where I was expecting to, nor (thankfully) in a criminal context (a police shooting range situated between the San Gabriel River bike trail, Carson St., the 605 freeway, Wardlow Rd.). At first I thought it might be a film shoot, but there usually aren’t that many police cars parked at a filming.
I traveled the entire length of Florence Ave. from west to east, with the infamous Normandie Ave. intersection about a third of the way into it. For a Saturday morning, the community was surprisingly active, & in a very positive way. I would estimate there were dozens of families, groups of men, groups of women walking the streets dressed in their Sunday best (Sabbath best?), carrying Bibles, on their way to one of the many Christian churches along this street. Unless you were to experience this for yourself, it may seem hard to believe. Expecting to be cursed or assaulted for my physical appearance, I was mostly met with warm smiles! Everyone with whom I made eye-contact reciprocated my “Good morning!” greeting!
Using Google Earth, these are the 21 churches that appear over a mere 8 miles:
- First United Church of Christ
- Grace & Truth Evangelical
- World Center Church
- Love of God Missionary Baptist
- Bethel Missionary Baptist
- New Testament Church of Christ
- Alpha & Omega Missionary Baptist
- Southwestern Church of God
- Angelic Institutional Christian
- Love & Joy Bible Church
- Gospel Word-Life Apostolic
- Gospel Prayer Center for Missions
- Faith & Hope Community Church
- Divine Temple Baptist Church
- Mision Cristiana Hebron
- Traveler’s Rest Baptist Church
- St. Luke’s Lutheran Church
- Huntington Park Hebrew Congregation
- St. Matthias Catholic Church
- First Assembly of God Church
- Iglesia Cristiana Pentecostes
Others are located within a block or two of Florence, but those 21 are directly along it. Amazing! And wonderful to see dedicated, devout Christians anchored in a region that needs to be reminded daily of God’s presence!