Celebrating 50 years of service to St. John Parish residents
Published 12:00 am Monday, November 6, 2006
By CALEB FREY
LAPLACE – They started in 1957 within the confines of a structure measuring only 15 feet by 30 feet with just 26 members, but determination and time have led the faithful members of the First Baptist Church of LaPlace into a flourishing religious community and will soon be celebrating their 50th anniversary of serving God and the citizens of St. John Parish.
The celebration is scheduled for January 27-28, 2007, kicking off the evening with an open invitation to any and all members, former or current, ministers and staff to join the FBC community at the Jerusalem Shrine Center in Destrehan the evening of Jan. 27, 2007.
They continue with the festivities through Sunday with an early morning service to be held in the First Baptist Church’s newly renovated worship center. Highlights of the service will include an anniversary choir, words of wisdom from former Pastor Major Speights and current Pastor Emeritus. Other former ministers will also be in attendance to show their support of the church’s monumental celebration.
As many of FBC’s faithful patrons will tell you, a church is only as good as the community that it’s comprised of. Fortunately for First Baptist of LaPlace, their community has a history of taking an active role in supporting the church.
Carol Covington, a 12-year member and longtime supporter of the FBC, has been using the last few months to get the stories of some of its members, new and old.
Otto and Patsy Walker joined the church in 1969, and can recall exactly why they chose FBC so many years ago.
“We received such a friendly and cordial reception that we wanted to be a part of the church,” the Walkers said.
Jimmy and Clauzelle Woods can recall when the church was in its former location on highway 51, obviously in need of more space for the congregation that growing daily. Moving the church to Ormond Blvd in LaPlace turned out to be one of the defining moments in the church’s history.
“Land in Riverlands became available and since our small church was busting at the seams, the small membership made the decision to buy the property now occupied by the church,” Jimmy said. For the Woods, however, the church has been more than simply refuge.
“The church has been our family throughout the years,” Jimmy said. “A young family away from relatives was and has been supported by the church.”
Charlie and Audrey Scafidel joined the church in 1959 and recall when 25 or 30 members at any given time was quite the accomplishment. The amount of members was not important, it was the emotion conveyed and shared by all that kept the Scafidel’s returning.
“Everyone was very friendly and we felt welcome and needed,” the Scafidels said about their experience with the FBC throughout the past 50 years.
John Walker remembers there being so many members compared with such little room, he had take his first Sunday school classes in a home next to the church’s original location.
“Sam and Wilda Work were my first Sunday School teachers. I was about twelve years old.” Walker said. “They lived next door to the church and because the church building was so small and the congregation was growing, there wasn’t enough room for all the Sunday School classes to be held in church. So our Sunday school class was in their living room.”
Bernice Johnson joined in 1959. It was former pastor Brother Major who stood out in her memories of the church’s past.
“Brother Major took everyone in. He made sure he knew everyone in the church and always had that arm out to put around your shoulders,” Johnson said. “Brother Major could mix with anybody.”
The Church has seen several pastors come and go in its first 50 years. The first was Reverend Bennett in 1957, Rev. Ralph Webber in 1959, Rev. William Wayne in 1965, Rev. Major Speights in 1971, and the current Rev. Bobby Burt, but the message has always stayed the same: love God, love your fellow man, and treat others in the same exact manner you would want them to treat you.
The FBC is looking forward to seeing all members, old and new at their celebration in January. They are also asking anyone with pictures of events that have taken place in the church’s history to contact the church at 985-652-6219 or by email at church firstname.lastname@example.org.