By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
TROUT – A year after floodwaters destroyed the nearly 100-year-old building which serves the congregation of Zenoria Baptist Church, members celebrated the remarkable progress that has been made on a new facility.
Friends and neighbors from around the community, including congregants of other area churches, gathered with the saints of Zenoria Baptist, March 11, 2017, to commemorate how nearly 80 Kingdom Builders literally raised a new building from the slab up over the course of a five-day period.
Located at 3133 Hwy. 500 in Trout, the new worship center will seat 138, and there will be classrooms and a fellowship hall when the structure is completed.
HOPE & THANKS
Pastor Joel Johnson is hoping his congregation of 65 will be in their new spaces by Easter Sunday.
“It’s going to be a time of jubilee,” Johnson said. “We couldn’t have pulled this off without the help of people in the community, sister churches and the Kingdom Builders. We’re not finished yet but we’re approach ing a place where we can soon meet together again.”
The former building was destroyed after 9 feet of water from the Little River – located less than a half-mile away – submerged the church, March 11, 2016. In just a 12-hour time period, floodwaters went from barely covering the floor to almost touching the roof.
When the congregation made the decision to remain together, they were offered a temporary meeting place from the Jena Band of Choctaws. Others in the community, the churches from the LaSalle Baptist Association and individuals and groups as far away as California and Michigan, pitched in – donating labor, money and supplies to contribute to the rebuilding project.
“Seeing all these people come has been a great experience and we’re looking forward to moving into our new church building that has been built a lot faster than any of us dreamed would happen last year,” said Zenoria Baptist Church member Ben Clark. “We appreciate all the people that have given so much and we can’t imagine where we would be without their help.”
OTHER COMEBACK TALES
Zenoria Baptist’s comeback story is one of a number of good news accounts that have emerged after last year’s flood.
Record rains in March and again in August created record floods, causing a combined 19 deaths and resulting in enormous property damage, including 86 Louisiana Baptist churches among the hundreds of thousands of structures heavily damaged by the flooding.
Thankfully, all, but one, have reopened or are rebuilding.
Even the lone church that closed its doors – Hillside Baptist Church in Hammond – found a way to make the best of its situation, donating its baptistery to Stillwater Baptist Church in the city.
Another congregation chose to merge with a fellow local body of Louisiana Baptists, Calvary Baptist Church in Denham Springs joined the Way Church of Denham Springs.
Rebuilding is still underway for five Louisiana Baptist churches.
According to John Hebert, Louisiana Baptists missions and ministry director, Amite Baptist Church in Livingston, Crossgate Baptist Church in Robert, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Independence, Blood River Baptist Church in Albany and New Hope Baptist Church in Independence, are now meeting in their worship center but have not completed all of their facilities.
Louis Husser, pastor of Crossgate Baptist Church, echoed the sentiments of his fellow four pastors, expressing thanks – despite the extended recovery – for the aid from countless volunteers who have come to help rebuild his church.
“The Scripture comes to mind – when one member of the body suffers, all the members suffer,” Husser said. “LBC churches have been down in the trenches suffering with this church body. God has truly blessed us. Our God is a ‘come back’ God.”