Oldest Black Church in Orange County, CA, Celebrates 95th Anniversary

The sanctuary of the Second Baptist Church in Santa Ana on Friday, February 16, 2018. It is the oldest African American congregation in Orange County and will celebrate its 95th anniversary Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The sanctuary of the Second Baptist Church in Santa Ana on Friday, February 16, 2018. It is the oldest African American congregation in Orange County and will celebrate its 95th anniversary Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Dorothy “Dottie” Mulkey was 22 and seven months pregnant when she and her then-husband, Lincoln, moved to Santa Ana from Newport, R.I., in 1962 after both served in the Navy.

The following year, the African American couple was turned away when they tried to rent an apartment in the city.

That same year, California voters approved Proposition 14, which overturned state legislation outlawing racial discrimination in housing sales and rentals.

The Mulkeys became the focal point of the effort to reverse Proposition 14 as they filed a lawsuit against the Santa Ana property owner that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. They won.

Throughout that process, the Second Baptist Church of Santa Ana, the first African American church set up in a county where blacks have always been a clear minority, provided a spiritual home, the congregation rallying behind Dorothy Mulkey and her family, she said.

On Sunday, Feb. 18 this church will celebrate its 95th anniversary.

For nearly a century, it has served as a haven for the local African American community in a county where the black population has hovered between 1 percent and 2 percent.

“Church is where I get my strength from,” said Mulkey, 77. “It’s a reinforcement that I’ve always needed. And church is a part of my life as much as any job I’ve ever had.”

Today, Second Baptist Church has about 750 members and welcomes about 500 on a Sunday morning, said Ivan Pitts, senior pastor. The congregation has evolved from being a traditional black church to welcoming people of all races and ethnicities. In May 2016, the congregation joined with another Baptist church in Lake Forest opening up a second campus, this one in South Orange County.

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SOURCE: DEEPA BHARATH
Orange County Register