“We are still ministering to hundreds of people monthly who are still traumatized by Katrina,” reported Dennis Watson, pastor of Celebration Church, which has grown to include four campuses – two as a result of the storm, and one providentially two weeks before.
METAIRIE – “We are still ministering to hundreds of people monthly who are still traumatized by Katrina,” reported Dennis Watson, pastor of Celebration Church, which has grown to include four campuses – two as a result of the storm, and one providentially two weeks before.
About 600 people are in counseling with the church’s professional counseling staff, the pastor said. Many are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, he added. Celebration’s multiple ministries also include partnering with other inner-city churches, such as a National Baptist church that pre-Katrina had 225 in worship.
“We are working with churches across the nation to help rebuild these congregations and ministries,” Watson said.
The church also is working through its location on Transcontinental Avenue, and its other locations: Construction on the 250-seat worship facility and community/recreation center in St. Bernard, site of the former Arabi Baptist Church, is to be completed by the end of February; About half of the $8 million cost above insurance has been raised toward the reconstruction of the Airline Avenue 2,500-seat worship center at a former shopping center; Another Celebration satellite campus is on the site of the former Woodland Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation that withered after Katrina.
The acquisition of the property on Transcontinental Avenue is a story in itself. It started with the church merging with Crescent City Baptist Church and school to avert a sale of the property to a Muslim group.
Both Celebration campuses were devastated by the winds and waters of Katrina two weeks later. The Airline campus was under water for over two weeks. Although the former Crescent City Baptist campus on Transcontinental Drive was also flooded, it was flooded by the rain waters of Katrina, rather than the salt and sewage canal waters that invaded the Airline campus. Therefore, the members of Celebration Church, along with numerous volunteers from around the nation, were able to begin gutting and cleaning the Transcontinental campus several weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The Celebration Congregation was able to resume worship services in New Orleans on Sept. 25, 2005, at the former Crescent City Baptist site.
“Altogether, Celebration Church permanently lost 60 percent of its members who were displaced to other cities and states as a result of Katrina,” Watson wrote. “Almost all of the former Crescent City Baptist Church members were displaced. Also, Celebration Church is still working to rebuild its largest campus. However, because the Celebration Congregation did have a place of worship and because of the support provided by churches and Christians from around our nation and world, the Lord has worked through Celebration Church since Katrina to:
-Host over 15,000 volunteers
-Serve over 135,000 families through food, clothing and product distribution, home tarping and gutting, home repair, counseling, etc.
-Provide counseling to thousands of New Orleanians, and trauma counseling training to hundreds of pastors, counselors and church leaders
-Win thousands of people to faith in Jesus
-Assimilate over 1,200 new people (mostly new Christians) into the Celebration Congregation.”