Editor’s note: Part of the purpose of the Baptist Message is building community among Southern Baptist churches in Louisiana – helping us all get to know each other better. Toward that end, we started Louisiana Landscapes 18 months ago to let readers know what was going on in churches across the state. We relied on newsletters supplied us by churches and associations.
But not all the nearly 1,600 churches in Louisiana send out newsletters, so this year our goal is to contact by telephone every church in the state, to learn what God is doing through each, in order to pass on that information to our readers for inspiration, prayer support and ideas exchange – and to remind each of us how good it is to be a Louisiana Southern Baptist!
WINNSBORO – Buford Brady, 70, is pastor of Lone Cedar Baptist. The church has been working for a year on the preliminary work needed before construction can begin – permits and inspections – on a new worship center to set adjacent to the current church building, which is more than 100 years old. Earth was to have begun moving this week.
About 40 people attend Sunday morning worship at Lone Cedar; 25 in Sunday School. At Christmas they celebrated the first person baptized “in several years,” Pastor Brady said. “We’re excited,” he said. “We’ve lived here all our lives. It seemed like [God] put me here for a reason.”
Lone Cedar Baptist and its two graveyards are situated on about five acres, including “the prettiest gardens in the state,” the pastor said. “People come to the prayer garden to get married.” He credited Miss Pete Bennett with tending to the landscaping, along with helpers she pays for work she can’t do.
METAIRIE – El Camino Baptist Church, an Hispanic congregation, recently bought an old dance hall.
“The place we were leasing, the lease was coming up and we couldn’t afford the new price,” explained Thomas Lowrie, pastor for the last two-and-a-half years. “We were looking around, but we couldn’t find anything.”
He was helping a church member work with a real estate agent one day, and mentioned the church’s need to the agent. She called him the next day to say she had the “perfect place.”
“The owner was trying to unload it for whatever he could get for it,” Lowrie said. “We’d been saving money over the years, so everything fell into place.”
It was a two-story building, with the second floor used as a dance hall. The wide-open space needed no renovation to be made into a church, and the first-floor tenants pay the mortgage.
“As a church with 40 members, we could never afford to buy here [in Metairie],” said Lowrie, who works bivocationally as an architect. “It was basically a gift from God.”
The 30-year-old air conditioning unit needs to be replaced; the church would like a volunteer to help with that, and with some minor repairs to the roof. If you can help, please call 504.733.1365 or 504.452.5783.
About 40 people participate in Sunday morning worship at El Camino Metairie. The church also provides Sunday School, home Bible study groups and Wednesday Bible study – Galatians is the current study.
HOLDEN – Byron Comish has been interim pastor for 15 months at Magnolia Baptist in East Louisiana Baptist Association. About 50 people attend Sunday morning worship in the church that started in 1919.
“We’re on the corner of two main streets,” said Lorraine Pankey, church clerk for the last three years. “Like a country church, we help our neighbors. We’re very community-minded. Our youth and children’s activities have fallen off, but we haven’t given up the cause. Mostly what we’re doing is seeking God’s will for a new pastor.”
The church property consists of three buildings in blond brick; the worship center is topped by a white steeple.
Interim Pastor Comish teaches at Springfield High School in nearby Springfield.
GLENMORA – Yancy Road Baptist started three years ago; Conrad Champagne, retired from the oil field, has been pastor the last 10 months.
“We’re working on starting Sunday School,” Champagne said. Yancy Road purchased a modular building – big rooms on skids – from Calvary Baptist in Alexandria. It was moved to property adjacent to the white wooden church with a steeple. The church is waiting on permits to make repairs. The building will provide space for a Sunday School and fellowship hall.
“We’re growing,” Champagne said. “It’s slow, like a lot of churches. It’s a small church out in the woods. Started in a house, and then they decided to build a church.”
A dozen people have joined the church since he was called as pastor, Champagne said.
BOGALUSA – Jeff Mizell has been pastor of Isabel Baptist for the last three years. About 80 people participate in Sunday morning worship in the white brick building topped by a white steeple.
“This year has been a good year of outreach both here and overseas,” Mizell said.
The church owns two 40-foot shipping containers they continually empty and refill with medical supplies for Romania, and with furniture and other household items for distribution locally and through Lakeshore Community Baptist Church near Biloxi, Miss., a missions interest of Isabel Baptist.
“I’ve been involved with missions since ’95,” Mizell said. “I’ve met people along the way, and this all has just grown.”
Church members in the last couple of months packaged and shipped 168 plastic shoebox-sized containers to Romania that were filled with items for Christmas gift-giving to children.
“The plastic containers hold up better than do cardboard shoeboxes and can be used by the family,” Mizell said.
With the help of the congregation – including youngsters in the children’s program, Isabel Baptist’s WMU prepared Christmas food and gift baskets for families in the community that could use some extra help.
It’s annual VBS program brought in 110 youngsters, and a revival in September led to 10 professions of faith and several recommitments, the pastor said.
NORCO – Kenneth Tew, 38, is new as pastor at First Baptist Norco. A student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Tew was minister of education for a year through the seminary’s Unlimited Partnership program. He served as interim pastor when Rudy French left, and was called Nov. 18 as pastor.
“We’re rebuilding the staff,” Tew said. “I have a heart for mentoring young men called to the ministry.” Tew’s wife, Kristin, also is a full-time student at NOBTS. Her ministry area is marriage and family counseling.
Jacob Glasz started Sunday, Jan. 6, as youth pastor. He and his wife are seminary students. Tew anticipates the church will call a seminary student as worship pastor in the near future, and will appoint a recently-retired member of the congregation to lead the volunteers lodging ministry center soon as well. This ministry provides a comfortable place for about 20 people at a time to stay, who serve in volunteer missions in New Orleans.
“The people [church members] want to keep the ministry center,” Tew said. It was started last year in unused Sunday School space by former Pastor Rudy and Rose French, who previously had led a Christian bed and breakfast in Canada.
About 50 people participate in Sunday morning worship at First Norco. Kim Collins, also a seminary student, is preschool leader.
“We’re focusing attention on prayer and getting the staff in place,” said Tew, who was ordained to the gospel ministry Nov. 25 at Shubata Baptist Church in Shubata, Miss., near Meridian, Miss.
ARCHIBALD – About 100 people participate in Sunday morning worship at First Baptist Archibald, where John Cleveland has been pastor since April 2007. Members give 12 percent of undesignated receipts to missions through the Cooperative Program and Richland Baptist Association.
“Arms in Motion for Christ” is a traveling puppet ministry led by Tammy Woods and perhaps a dozen First Archibald members. Call to set a time they can minister at your church: 318.334.2938.
About 60 youngsters participate in Awanas each Wednesday evening. Senior adults throughout the community gather at First Archibald once a month for DMA – Don’t Mention Age – which includes a program and mission projects.
“This is a church that truly has a heart for people and for service to the Lord,” Cleveland said.
The church in downtown Archibald is often identified as the one with the blue metal gym, the pastor said. It also has a red brick worship center, topped by a white steeple.
METAIRIE – At Highland Baptist, the congregation’s wake-up call came when a man committed suicide on the church’s property.
It was after Hurricane Katrina keelhauled greater New Orleans in August 2005. The man and his son asked if they could pitch a tent in the church’s parking lot. Some time later, the son moved on to California. Some time later, the pastor went out to the tent and found the man who, police said, apparently had shot himself two days previously.
“That’s a memory I’ll never forget,” said Scott Smith, pastor of Highland Metairie for the last nine years. “It brought our people together. It really changed a lot of people that day. If we can’t reach out to people in our parking lot – ” His voice trailed off.
About 75 people participate in Sunday morning worship at Highland Baptist, down from 125 before Katrina. The church has four Bible study groups in addition to Sunday School, plus RAs, GAs and Mission Friends. Two other churches use the building: a Presbyterian Korean congregation, and a Messianic Jewish fellowship.
“We have hosted 76 groups and more than 1,000 volunteers since Katrina, and have several more lined up for this winter,” said Smith, adding that shortly after the storm, Highland replaced two traditional rest rooms at the church into showers for volunteers to use. “We were the first church to do that.”
Highland members – and volunteers housed at the church and elsewhere – help clean out and rebuild people’s homes, and also work with Baptist Crossroads and Operation Noah.
“Our children and youth programs are doing a wonderful job,” Smith said. “God’s doing exciting things through them.”
Highland Metairie baptized 16 people in 2007; many were teens, the pastor said.