By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
KENNER, La. (LBM) – Members of First Baptist Church, Kenner, recently accepted a God-sized challenge and raised, in one day, much of the $450,000 deductible needed to repair the worship center damaged by Hurricane Ida.
By the end of the Dec. 12 worship service, members had raised $367,361 that, when combined with another $80,000 given from the New Orleans Baptist Association and Louisiana Baptist Convention, provided enough to begin renovations. Interim Pastor Reggie Ogea, who also is a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said he was amazed that 71 families stepped out in faith and committed to help their church rebuild.
“I am still astounded, and the folks are, too,” Ogea told the Baptist Message. “When you consider that many of our families were still struggling themselves to make repairs to their own homes after Ida, they truly gave sacrificially. They have a strong sense that God is about to do something.”
FBC Kenner has been in transition since Ogea became interim pastor in April 2021. The congregation recognized the need to revitalize, and on June 27 voted to become the fourth member of First Baptist Church, Covington’s network of churches.
The move allows the two churches to work together in ministry to reach the south shore region of Lake Pontchartrain for Christ. FBC Kenner, which averages between 175-180 worshipers for Sunday morning worship, joins Metairie Church, Metairie Korean Church and Hope Church, Bush, in this effort. The partnership is unique from the others, with FBC Kenner remaining autonomous – meaning it retains a senior pastor and receives revitalization support from FBCC.
Just two months after they became a member of FBC Covington’s network of churches, the congregation was dealt a blow when Hurricane Ida’s fierce winds caused significant damage to the roof, blew out the windows and destroyed much of the worship center’s interior, Aug. 29.
Fortunately, the fellowship hall (which at one time had served as the worship center) had minimal damage, so services have been temporarily moved inside that facility. Mold remediation has been completed in the permanent worship center and repairs have begun on the roof. The church continues to move forward, sharing the Good News with the community while in the process of finding a permanent pastor, Ogea said.
“The people of FBC Kenner possess the most resilient and optimistic spirit of any of the churches I’ve served as interim pastor,” Ogea said. “Their future is ripe for revitalization and turnaround.” Waylon Bailey, pastor of FBC Covington, said he also is anticipating even greater things in store for FBC Kenner. “First Baptist Covington is pleased to be a part of the good things happening at FBC Kenner,” Bailey said. “We believe that God will continue to bless the church and use it to bless many people on the south shore and around the world. We are very thankful to be a part of what they are doing.”