A blessing in disguise: Celebration Church reopens from Ida with larger capacity

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

LAPLACE — When the Celebration Church River Parishes campus was stripped down to its studs after Hurricane Ida, the congregation wrote Bible verses on the 2x4s as a reminder that no storm is too big to overcome. The devastation left in the wake of Ida turned out to be a blessing in disguise when the church reopened its doors 18 months later, unveiling a newly renovated facility with a larger capacity.

After the church campus at 3400 Highway 51 took on more than a foot of water, the Celebration family found a temporary home right down the street at First Assembly of God. The reopening service was held on Good Friday inside a sanctuary that had been totally transformed. The space, which initially fit just under 200 people, had been reconfigured to seat 275. Walls were rearranged and a modular building was added to create more space for children. Other additions included a cry room for infants and nursing mothers, a new foyer providing space for people to talk before and after service, and numerous upgrades to sound and lighting.

the re-opening was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting attended by St. John Parish officials on Thursday, May 18. Pastor James Fletcher was happy to report that he has seen an uptick of people coming back to church in recent months.

“We were sad of course, but we able to do some great things. Everything we want to do with the building before, we were able to do,” Fletcher said. “We had over 175 volunteers from around the area, from Baton Rouge down to Houma come to gut the building. We wrote Bible verses on every single piece of 2×4, all over. It was a cool moment for us. Now we are surrounded by that as well.”

Celebration Church – River Parishes Campus has served the community for 15 years. “Checkerz” Williams was the first pastor to lead the LaPlace campus. Fletcher, formerly a youth pastor, assumed the role of campus pastor four years ago. The congregation remains active in the community, providing food, clothing and prayer wherever needed. Even when the building was destroyed, Celebration Church helped Mercy Chefs distribute thousands of meals to survivors. The church is also known locally for volunteering at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home, blessing teachers, and hosting prayer walks through the neighborhood. Volunteers gather to pray over a specific area of the community and clean up litter while walking through the streets and asking neighbors if they are in need of prayer.

“It’s a very fruitful season for us, and we are thankful because we know people need a lot of hope in our region, and we’re able to bring that with the word of God,” Fletcher said.

All are invited to attend service at Celebration Church every Sunday at 10 a.m. at 3400 Highway 51 in LaPlace.