Church Meets Government: Choice International honors St. John leaders

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, September 18, 2019

LAPLACE — Parish President Natalie Robottom, nearing the end of her final term, and District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut will be remembered as the first African American women to take on their respective roles in more than 200 years of St. John the Baptist Parish history.

Sheriff Mike Tregre is the second African American to serve as sheriff in St. John Parish. Tregre was preceded by John Webre, who served as sheriff from 1876-1877, just 11 years after the end of the Civil War and decades before anyone alive today was born.

Bishop Antoine M. Jasmine of Choice International Ministries in LaPlace is pleased to know that children — black, white or any shade in between — can look to today’s political leaders and see there are no limits to what they can achieve.

Jasmine is hosting a Church Meets Government program to honor the historic achievements of Robottom, Dinvaut and Tregre at 4 p.m. Oct. 6.

Held at Choice the Event Place, 516 E. Airline Highway in LaPlace, the program will also challenge leaders to honor the two-way relationship between the church and government when it comes to serving the local community.

“I think it’s a major achievement for the African American community in this area since historically it wasn’t like that,” Jasmine said. “I’m happy that every culture gets an opportunity to prove themselves as leaders. I felt the need to give tribute to their achievements as black leaders. At the same time, we need to let the government know its responsibility to the church and the church to it.”

Minister JaVon Ophelia Butler expects the event will draw a large crowd. She said former NAACP state president Ernest Johnson and current NAACP state president Dr. Mike McClanahan are on the list of dignified guests slated to attend.

State representative Randal Gaines and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority are also on the guest list.

Promotion from grounds of racism and enslavement to a state where Parish Council members, School Board leaders and Parish administration come from all cultures would not be possible without God, according to Jasmine.

He said the church has historically been involved in hosting food distributions and town hall meetings worldwide, tracing back centuries to the Catholic Church’s prominence in government.

“The movement of desegregation was built on the church,” Jasmine said. “Everything in government has been birthed by the church. I am not criticizing government, but I think government as community members should be able to visit churches.”

By advocating for a stronger working relationship, Jasmine is not seeking grant money or financial help. He wants St. John Parish leaders to walk through church doors and talk to congregation members to gain new perspective. Some people in the church are finding success, and some are hurting. All can offer valuable input about what is needed to improve quality of life in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Jasmine wants Robottom, Tregre, Dinvaut and other government leaders to ask about community efforts already underway in churches and find a way to involve more people.

Choice International is a community in itself, striving to be a Haven of Hope.

Choice the Event Place houses a new medical clinic for the Right Choice Project, expected to open within the next two months with a doctor, nurse and receptionist on staff to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and testing. It is the first church in the area to open an on-site medical facility.

Choice International Ministries also has plans for the Multi-complex building at 1005 Cambridge Drive, the site of the old LaPlace skating rink. Once up and running, the site will act as an “incubator” with office space for approximately 10-to-20 lock-and-key office spaces. It will be a space for small businesses to grow until business owners secure the financial resources necessary to move into larger office buildings.

Choice International also stands apart in offering a fashion ministry, stage plays and acting for personal development aimed to build confidence in church members. Future plans include instituting a scholarship for college students.