METAIRIE – In the first quarter of 2009, the Celebration congregation has:
-Had its weekend worship attendance grow by 10 percent, even though the church had to deal with challenges like Mardi Gras, time-change weekend, Spring festivals in the region, and more;
-Received 184 new membership candidates into the Celebration family;
-Had an additional 206 people make professions of faith in Jesus Christ;
-Had hundreds of teens participating in midweek youth services and school Life Groups;
-Experienced an upswing in member/attendee giving during the worst economic recession in the United States in the last 70 years;
-Had a number of newer people commit to giving above their tithe to support our A City Transformed: Investing In Eternity projects; and
-Witnessed a significant number of people becoming leaders and strong disciples of Jesus.
Also, Celebration’s Easter attendance in 2009 included more than 1,100 more people than the number who attended the 2008 Easter services, more than 3,300 in all, at all campuses combined.
Celebration is finally ready to begin the rebuild of the Airline Drive Campus, Pastor Dennis Watson reports.
“Devastated by the waters of Hurricane Katrina, rebuilding our largest campus has been one of the greatest challenges we’ve ever experienced as a church,” wrote Pastor Dennis Watson in his weekly letter to the Celebration family.
“Our initial challenge was the cost of the rebuild. Although we had the highest amount of insurance recommended for our Airline Campus, no one – including our insurance company – ever envisioned our losing everything. Therefore, our flood insurance monies basically paid for the cost of gutting and cleaning out the Airline facility, leaving us with a rebuild cost of almost $12 million,” Watson continued.
One-third of the cost of the rebuilding is expected to be covered by a commitment from Louisiana Public Assistance, working with FEMA, to pay for the rebuilding of the school that was at Airline Drive – which also served as Celebration’s Children’s/Preschool Ministry area.
Another third is to be covered by the sale of the Transcontinental Drive worship facility to the Good Shepherd Hispanic Baptist Church, which has outgrown its own facility.
The last one-third of the cost for rebuilding the Airline Drive campus is being raised by Celebration Metairie’s members through their gifts to A City Transformed: Investing In Eternity.
PINEVILLE – Trinity Baptist Church hosted a dinner recently for 214 soldiers with the 88th Battalion at Fort Polk, who are to be deployed to Iraq in June.
The meal included brisket, rice dressing, green beans provided by the church, and “hundreds” of desserts prepared by church families, said Pastor Darryl Hoychick.
“I was so proud to have those guys,” Hoychick said. “Our church was blessed to be a part of them.”
A chaplain at Fort Polk had called the church and asked if they would like to host the soldiers. It was part of an effort to better connect soldiers with the community, Hoychick said he was told.
The military has long been important to Trinity – the congregation includes at least 45 members who are veterans. The church even has its own Color Guard for special events such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July services.
Gideon Bibles were laid at each place setting – about half were picked up by the soldiers – and Hoychick spoke for a few minutes on John 3:16. It was “a word of encouragement that comes from a Christian perspective,” Hoychick said he told the soldiers.
After the dinner, soldiers and veterans mingled in small groups – the soldiers learning from the vets; the vets remembering “those days” when they were on active duty.
Prayer services at Trinity routinely have included remembrance of the military – “Our vets know we’re here for them,” Hoychick said – but since the dinner, Trinity is praying specifically for the 88th Battalion.
“I think it’s just awesome when our young men give up years of their lives to protect us, to serve the nation,” Hoychick said. “That’s exactly what happens when you join the military. You give up your freedom … and you become a soldier of the United States.”
NEW ORLEANS – The Greater New Orleans Pastors’ Coalition and Saddleback Church are partnering to bring the Purpose Driven Church Conference to New Orleans.
At this conference Saturday, May 2, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., pastors and lay leaders will be taught practical principles for developing a healthy and balanced church around biblical purposes.
Conference speakers include Bryan Crute, Sr., pastor of Destiny Metropolitan Church in Atlanta, Ga.; Gerald Sharon, North American director of the Purpose Driven Network; Gonzalo Rodriguez, Sr., pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Hispanic Church in Metairie, La.; and Dennis Watson, Senor Pastor of Celebration Church in Metairie.
Registration is available online at www.purposedrivenchurch.com/NewOrleans.
LAKE CHARLES – Trinity Baptist plans a Fishing Rodeo for Saturday, May 9. It’s a “first-ever” event for the Activities Ministry at Trinity Center.
The plan is that any fisherman who would like to participate should go fishing that morning, and bring in their best catch to the weigh-in between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. or so at Trinity Center. Prizes will be awarded in fresh water and in salt water divisions.
A fish fry is to follow, starting about 12:30 p.m. On the menu: the fish you catch. Plus all the fixin’s.
Darin Worthington is minister of activities at Trinity Lake Charles. Steve James is pastor.