By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
NEW IBERIA – The meeting at the local Starbucks that November morning was originally a discussion by Genesis Baptist Church to utilize Trinity Baptist Church’s facility for just worship services.
But little did the pastors of the two churches realize at the time that God had much more in store for the New Iberia congregations, one predominantly white and the other predominantly black.
Early on, everything happened as planned.
The two congregations unanimously approved the idea and plans were made for the two congregations to fellowship over donuts and coffee.
Soon, the congregations felt led to hold a joint Vacation Bible School.
A closer relationship and bond was being formed.
“The congregations grew closer and it was at that time that the Holy Spirit began to move upon the hearts of both congregations that they needed to be one body,” said Ernest Davis, pastor of Genesis Baptist Church until the two churches officially merged, when he became missions and education minister. “Several names for the new church were discussed among the laity, especially the children, but the congregations settled on maintaining the name Trinity and named the daycare and Christian school Genesis which will be completed this coming fall.”
Both congregations unanimously approved the merger in July. The congregations approved keeping Trinity Baptist Church as its name and calling the Christian school that opens this fall Genesis.
A month later, the first service was held. During the Aug. 3 worship service, four adults were baptized and a fellowship meal followed the service. Membership is expected to grow to between 250 and 300.
“The Church is determined to broaden the Christian concept of love as one body to fulfill the Great Commission,” Davis said. “In light of Satan’s many attacks, the torch of love burns bright in the heart of every member of both congregations.”
This is not the first merger in which Samuel Blayclock, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, has been involved. When he was pastor at Northside Baptist Church in Lafayette, he helped facilitate the church’s merger with Covenant Baptist church in the same town.
During that merger, Blaylock witnessed unity in action.
“There is no doubt this is the work of the Holy Spirit in which we are all one in Christ,” he said. “In both instances when we came together worshiping and working together we actually missed each other when we returned to our regular services. Therefore, when the time came for voting for the mergers in both instances the votes were unanimous.”
In addition to oneness between the two congregations, Blaylock said flexibility was also on display.
“In addition to unity in worship the ministerial staff must be flexible as to positions, and willing to do what is necessary to enhance the work of the ministry,” he said.
“The ministerial staff must look closely and see where each pastor is most gifted and each must be willing to serve unselfishly in that area of ministry.”
So far, members of the new Trinity Baptist Church are excited about the change. Described as mission-minded by Blaylock and Davis, the congregation plans to minister to its community through ministries such as developing a food pantry, starting a jail and prison ministry, assisting other churches in revitalization and mergers, creating a ministry for drug and alcohol recovery and planting churches.
Already, Trinity Baptist has helped start a mission church in Lydia. The first service of the mission was held July 31, the same day as the Trinity and Genesis voted to merge.
Originally First Baptist Lydia, the church soon will change its name to Trinity Baptist Lydia campus. Its pastor, Joe Wilson, will join Trinity Baptist as its pastor of missions. Blaylock hopes Wilson will head missions local and take mission crews abroad to third countries.
“We are so excited to say the least about all the events that have recently transpired, and also at times feel overwhelmed but God is faithful and will accomplish and complete His work,” Blaylock said. “The church plant was actually on our list as a long term goal when God suddenly opened the door.”