By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
NEW ORLEANS (LBM) – More than 100 volunteers from eight churches have spent a portion of the summer helping Immanuel Community Church expand its Gospel reach into the community through the construction of a multipurpose facility in New Orleans.
Under the direction of Louisiana Baptist Mission Builders Field Strategist Mark Jelks, teams from Wisconsin, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky are working with Louisiana Baptists to construct the 10,000-square-foot facility. When completed, the facility will house a worship center (with seating for up to 400), children’s area, fellowship hall and offices.
Groundbreaking on the property was held in June and the new facility is expected to open by November on property that once was home to Elysian Fields Baptist Church, which sustained damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Since I moved to New Orleans, I have been burdened for the youth in our city,” Pastor Matt Delaughter told the Baptist Message. “We want to see those youth not go the route of so many in New Orleans who have chosen violence. Instead, we hope to help them know the joy of Jesus and a life of generosity. We want Immanuel to be that faithful witness to Jesus and hope through the years we will have a significance influence in our community.”
ICC started in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans as a church plant of Immanuel Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, in 2015. The church worshipped there until relocating in 2020 to Gentilly Baptist Church, which is fewer than 2 miles from where the new facility is under construction. Delaughter asked for prayers as his church tries to finish the project by November.
Construction of the multipurpose building has opened doors to sharing the Gospel in the neighborhood, Delaughter said.
The church has prayer walked, given appreciation gifts to teachers at the nearby Bethune Elementary School and served 500 meals a day for two weeks after Hurricane Ida made landfall in 2021.
Additionally, North American Mission Board “Gen Send” summer missionaries have canvassed the neighborhood to gather demographics and share Christ with homeowners.
Residents have been grateful for the bold witness of the congregation and other mission teams, who have continued with construction efforts despite multiple thefts of tools, building materials and other items (totaling more than $15,000). [Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to help replace stolen items]
“One lady gives popsicles to the volunteers just about every day and others have brought over water to them,” Delaughter said. “They want us to be here, and they can’t wait for us to open in a few months.”
Louisiana Baptist Missions and Ministry Team Director John Hebert commended Delaughter and his congregation for remaining steadfast in their Gospel-centered mission.
“Matthew Delaughter has been building his congregation and reaching people since the very beginning the church was planted,” Hebert said. “I’ll never forget how impressed I was with him the first time we met. Our initial meeting about the construction of this facility was about three years ago, before COVID. With the Lord’s help the project is finally coming to fruition.”
Jelks, the son of Mission Builders founder Ed Jelks, said ICC is the latest construction project undertaken by Mission Builders this year.
Three crews along with church members are rebuilding the 10,000-square-foot worship center at Marlow Baptist that was destroyed by a tornado in 2019; and more than 80 volunteers are building a 4,000-square-foot multipurpose facility for the Way Church, Leesville. Teams also are renovating a 27,000-sq.-ft. multi-purpose facility at Pine Ridge Baptist Church, Melder.
Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief Associate and Volunteer Mobilizer Mark Morelock said the ICC project is a reminder of how the church can bring hope to a community.
“He gets the glory,” Morelock said. “Even in tough times, hope continues.”
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