Rapid urbanization is transforming residents of Livingston Parish – and the 39 churches of this association – from a rural mindset to that of an urban mindset, said David Brown, director of missions.
EASTERN LOUISIANA BAPTIST ASSOCIATION – Rapid urbanization is
transforming residents of Livingston Parish – and the 39 churches of
this association – from a rural mindset to that of an urban mindset,
said David Brown, director of missions.
second-fastest growing association in the state – St. Tammany, further
east, is first – Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association (ELBA) is east
of Baton Rouge. It encompasses Livingston Parish, the population of
which, since 1980, has grown by 95 percent, the DOM said.
“Part of the
challenge is helping rural congregations adjust to a more urbanized
population,” Brown said. To that end, the association conducts training
and conferences to help churches understand the cultural
characteristics of an urban population and to identify ways they can
connect to that population.
One reason for
the area’s growth spurt is its public schools, which have ranked very
high over the last few years, Brown said. Good schools attract more
families which, in turn, fuel growth in business and industry.
On the western
end of the parish, in Denham Springs, new construction includes not
only a popular retail chain, but also a multi-faceted development
called Juban Crossing, which could one day rival the Mall of Louisiana
in Baton Rouge. Juban Crossing is set to include retail shops, business
and medical offices, a residential development, and a state-of-the-art
At the Satsuma
exit off Interstate 12, a new Northshore Hospital and additional
commercial developments are underway too, Brown said. On the eastern
end, especially in the Springfield area, Livingston Parish is seeing
continued residential development through the Carter Plantation, a
golfing community and subdivision.
In the south,
along the Amite River and the Diversion Canal, a waterway residential
development targeting upper-income families is underway and will likely
provide the association with new ministry challenges, Brown said.
Some ideas include a resort ministry and a Diversion Canal chaplain ministry.
associational motto is ‘Together We Do What We Cannot Do Alone,’” Brown
told messengers to the association’s 2006 annual meeting. “I would take
that one step farther to say, ‘Together We Do What the Heavenly Father
Would Have Us Do.’ Our constant goal is to ‘See what God is doing and
The churches in the association are concentrating on several areas of ministry, including church planting, Brown said.
The newest church plant is One Life Baptist Church in Walker, begun in January.
“They’re still in the early stages of development,” the DOM said.
Meeting in a
daycare center in South Walker, the congregation has reached out into
the community through Christmas and Easter events, including a
community Easter egg hunt that involved several hundred participants,
even in the cold, Brown said.
is also developing strategies to help strengthen churches through
collaboration, Brown said. Recently, Hebron Baptist Church became a
sponsor for Burning Bush Baptist, a mission, adding the strength of the
oldest Baptist church in the parish to one of the newer works.
“On May 20,
approximately 80 people gathered at the church on Hammack Road to
celebrate the new relationships as the mission became a part of Hebron
and ELBA,” Brown reported in the association’s May newsletter. “The
church had gone through some difficult times and attendance had dropped
to less than 20.”
Now, attendance at Burning Bush is approaching 50 in some services, Brown wrote.
ministries in the association include a Filipino ministry; Celebrate
Recovery at Judson Baptist Church; food ministry at Walker Baptist;
pageant ministry at Amite Baptist, which draws thousands in both the
spring and the fall; scholarship provision for Louisiana College and
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary students; and Camp Living
Waters, owned and directed by seven Southeast Louisiana Baptist
Associations, including ELBA.