As pastor of Faithful Central Baptist Church, the Rev. Kenneth Ulmer didn’t think twice when Robert K. Tanenbaum scheduled a campaign visit last year to the small congregation during his bid to become county district attorney.
However, Ulmer was surprised when the Beverly Hills city councilman returned last year to the church after his defeat, suggesting fund-raising ideas for community outreach programs in South-Central. That meeting paved the way for a series of Beverly Hills concerts by Faithful Baptist’s choir that raised $65,000 for churches in South-Central.
Ulmer and Tanenbaum met again Sept. 5 when the councilman and about 20 other Beverly Hills residents attended church services and presented the congregation with a check for $15,000.
“We’re not a high-visibility church in the city,” said Ulmer, who leads a congregation of about 3,500 at 6100 S. Hoover St. “We’re just a local church in the minority community who happens to be very concerned. So, that a city like Beverly Hills, that is so connected with excellence in entertainment, would be responsive and supportive of (Faithful Baptist) was a great surprise.”
The benefits attracted the support of local businesses and Beverly Hills residents who bought $50 tickets to the first concert in August, 1992, Tanenbaum said. A second performance took place in May, and a third concert is in the planning stages.
The proceeds will go toward supporting Faithful Baptist’s food distribution program and transition house, and to outreach programs run by Messiah, Mt. Zion and Mt. Moriah Baptist churches, as well as Little Zion Baptist Church in Compton. All of the churches submitted requests to Tanenbaum and Beverly Hills City Manager Mark Scott. Faithful Baptist had previously received $20,000; the other four churches received $5,000, according to Scott. He said that $10,000 has yet to be awarded.
The recipients were selected by a committee of Beverly Hills residents, Tanenbaum said. He emphasized the fund-raising campaign is organized by volunteers and is not a city-sponsored effort.
Tanenbaum said that although the primary goal is raising money for lesser-known South-Central churches and social groups, he hopes the project will make residents of both communities feel more at ease.
“I really wanted neighboring communities who are geographically so close, but seem so far in terms of sharing culture values, to meet,” he said.