Rising Star Baptist Church celebrating Pastor August’s impact, anniversary

Published 12:13 am Saturday, October 21, 2017

LAPLACE — After Donald August Sr. of LaPlace graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in business administration, he never anticipated he would end up returning home to run God’s business.

Sunday, he celebrates his 23rd anniversary as pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church in LaPlace.

August said he has focused on community service during his time as pastor, and his most significant contributions have extended beyond church walls.

Under his leadership, the Rising Star congregation has participated in Night Out Against Crime, Toys for Tots, school supply drives and St. John Parish cleanup days.

August also periodically volunteers at East St. John High School, where he provides counseling to individuals and groups. He said helping young people is a rewarding experience, and some students have called him outside of school to ask for guidance.

He’s also proud of acquiring additional property to expand the 91-year-old church and using the new space to build a basketball court for local youth to enjoy.

“I’ve always felt the church is supposed to be the center of the community,” August said. “We want to create impact in a positive way and enhance the neighborhood.”

Education is another big focus for August, who believes it is his responsibility to send children down the right path in life.

He encourages good grades by giving monetary rewards to students who achieve honor roll. High school seniors who show him a college acceptance letter are granted a $1,000 scholarship funded by church tithes and offerings.

“One of the highlights over the years has been seeing kids move on to better things and succeed,” August said.

August is dedicated to serving God and speaking the truth through his teachings, according to Iona Holloway, a lifelong member of Rising Star Baptist Church.

Holloway said August is also very humble, always focused on service over self-recognition, even though it’s a Baptist tradition to honor the minister.

“He doesn’t want the week-long celebration or the money tree,” Holloway said. “We have to make him accept a two-day celebration because there are other people in the congregation who want to recognize him.”

This Sunday, August will sit in the chair of honor, according to Holloway, and the congregation will enjoy a meal in honor of his contributions following the service.

“At first he was reluctant to become a minister,” Holloway said with a laugh.

“He was young. I’ve seen how God has worked His Light.”

In the years since, August has embraced the position, but he still is not one to hog the spotlight.

“God put me here to be a blessing to other people,” August said. “People want to acknowledge me, and I tell them all the praise and honor goes to God.”

Over the years, August has noticed St. John change from a rural area to a busy, suburban town, and he’s seen his congregation, once comprised mainly of the elderly, grow and include a spectrum of ages.

“It’s always been a loving congregation,” August said.

“The greatest blessing is seeing the spiritual growth that has occurred.”