Community members celebrate the 2013 Communitas at the Church in Ocean Park. This year, the Oct. 11 awards will honor Katharine King, Blase and Theresa Bonpane and Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño. / Courtesy of The Church in Ocean Park

OCEAN PARK — From hosting local climate change forums to addressing immigration issues across California, this year’s Communitas honorees typify the spirit of the Latin word — people coming together for the good of a community.

The 16th annual Communitas awards presented by The Church in Ocean Park honor individuals who elevate the spirit of community. Katharine King, Blase and Theresa Bonpane and Bishop Minerva G. Carca√±o are this year’s honorees.

The Rev. Janet McKeithen, United Methodist pastor for the church, said a committee of 10 volunteers selected the honorees: one significantly involved in the church and local community like King, the next moving beyond the church and outside Santa Monica as the Bonpanes have done and with someone with even more regional impact like Carcaño.

“The awards – and congregation – have become more diversified over the years,” McKeithen said.

The event begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11 with a welcome reception, followed by dinner and awards program. Each honoree has a hand in picking music for the evening as well.

King, vice president of the church board, founded the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concert Series 30 years ago and is now working with California Climate Change Exchange, one of the church’s social justice programs.

“I was blown away when I heard,” she said. “I said, ‘Oh geez, you don’t say no to this.’ It’s very rewarding and gratifying, and it’s certainly an honor. I’m touched, and just a little embarrassed.”

In 2004, Carcaño became the first Hispanic woman elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church. She is the Los Angeles area resident bishop for the United Methodist Church, and her focus on immigration and LGBTQ issues is just part of what makes her so inspiring, McKeithen said.

“She brings people together in an effort to really hear them,” she said.

Theresa Bonpane, founding director of the Office of the Americas, and Blase Bonpane, director, work on international peace and justice education issues. Blase currently hosts the radio program World Focus, having worked for years as a missionary in Central America.

“There’s a great mix of people,” McKeithen said. “We see all kinds of people we’ve never met before, because they come to honor the honorees.”

With a church-going population of about 150, McKeithen said their outreach ends up being far greater thanks to programs like the committee for racial justice and music, exercise, volunteer and women’s groups.

“That’s what the church is all about, the spirit of community,” King said. “The things spawned by the church, it’s quite a long list.”

Tickets cost $65 per person, and McKeithen said those funds and any donations are divided between the programs at the church and the upkeep of the historical, century-old building. The church celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year. McKeithen said there has been an uptick in early sponsorships this year, which she attributes to the honorees.

McKeithen said Communitas is about recognizing those who are truly making a difference in the world.

“They have all stepped out of their comfort zone and taken bold steps,” she said. “They are all risk takers, all doing something for the betterment of the community or world.”

If You Go
Communitas 2014
4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11
235 Hill St., Santa Monica
$65 per person or five for $300
Low income ticket pricing available or(310) 399-1631

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