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First Methodist pitching in to improve homes of needy with ‘Revive 225’

Photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Christine Wesley, left, watches volunteers from First United Methodist Church rake leaves and clean out her Sycamore Street home before renovations begin as part of the church's Revive 225 mission project.

Christine Wesley leaned against a neighbor’s house, a cane in one hand, her phone in the other and a smile on her face. Wearing a warm, black jacket and hat to ward off the early Saturday morning chill, she watched a swarm of First United Methodist Church members pull broken furniture out the… Continue reading →

Facets of Faith: Finding the word of God

Advocate staff photo by LEILA PITCHFORD-ENGLISH -- The Rev. Stephan Tchividjian explains to the Faith Travel Association how faith-based travel can change a person. He says he and his wife sent their 'wild child' to Africa for four months and she came back to become a champion for the people there.

An unwanted trip to the Dominican Republic changed life for Stephan Tchividjian, pastor, business leader and grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham. Tchividjian spoke about “The Power of Faith-based Travel” and led a panel discussion on growing ministry through faith-based travel during the sessions hosted by the Faith Travel Association in New Orleans recently. He explained… Continue reading →

Choral group Heritage sets Festival of Negro Spirituals

Photo provided by Heritage -- Heritage, a non-profit professional choral ensemble, is holding its 24th annul Festival of Negro Spiritual on Feb. 7 at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

Heritage, whose mission is to perpetuate the “Negro spiritual” as a distinctive art form, will host its 24th annual Festival of Negro Spirituals on Feb. 7. The event, which will begin at 3 p.m., will be held at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 185 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive. Admission is free. “Heritage has been sharing… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Jan. 31, 2015

Photo provided by Stevedale Baptist Church -- The Mark Trammell Quartet will be in concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5, at Stevendale Baptist Church, 16545 Old Hammond Highway, Baton Rouge. A love offering will be taken.

YOUTH BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT: 9 a.m., H.B. Williams Tower of Strength Center, 690 Kelly St. For youth ages 5 to 19. $5. (225) 937-3419. CLIFF & COMPANY LISTENING EXPERIENCE: 7 p.m., Quarters Endless Entertainment, 4530 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. A party for the release of the local gospel group’s CD, “Searching… Continue reading →

Watoto Children’s Choir to perform in BR area

Photo provided by Watoto Children's Choir -- The Watoto Children's Choir from Africa is bringing its dynamic show to the area. Performances are free and open to the public.

The Watoto Children’s Choir, which has traveled here from Africa, will be giving several performances of “Oh What Love” in the area. Through this dynamic worship experience, the members of the Watoto Children’s Choir, who were once orphans, share their journeys to redemption. All performances are free and open to the public. The choir… Continue reading →

Jefferson Baptist to hold Women’s Retreat

Best-selling author Lisa Harper will be the featured speaker at the Jefferson Baptist Women’s Retreat on Feb. 6-7. The “Perfectly Imperfect” event, which runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 7, will be held at the church, 9135 Jefferson Highway. Tickets are… Continue reading →

Wings hopes Bibles first step of ministry

Photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Wings of the Spirit mission group members load Gospels of John into their plane at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. Board President Ryan Williams, left, hands booklets to pilot Gerald Huggins, center, and videographer Daniel Waghorne. Huggins and Waghorne will fly the Super Cub into Central America in February to distribute the Spanish-version Gospel of John to remote villages.

Whenever Gerald Huggins sees video or photographs of poor, barefoot children, especially in Central America, he gets emotional. “I identify with them because I was one of those kids,” Huggins said. “It touches my heart.” A seasoned pilot and president of GH Enterprises, an aircraft maintenance company at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Huggins, 64, was… Continue reading →

Meet Joshua Johnson, Baton Rouge's rapping, youngest Catholic priest who 'never liked' church as a kid

A young Catholic priest who enjoys rap music had a few confessions about his faith and his music: He didn’t like the Catholic Church as a youth, and he doesn’t want to simply be known today as the “Rapping Priest.” At 27, the Rev. Joshua Johnson, of Christ the King Catholic Church at LSU, is the youngest… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Jan. 24, 2015

A MATTER OF LIFE AND LOVE: University Presbyterian Church, LSU campus. A regional conference of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. The Rev. Road Cynthia Rigby, W.C. Brown theology professor, Austin Theological Presbyterian Seminary will be the keynote speaker. The Rev. Road Kenneth E. Kovacs, pastor of Catonsville Presbyterian Church in… Continue reading →

LSU class to explore impacts of ‘Religion, Food and Culture’ on society

Advocate file photo -- An LSU class will explore the importance of food in religious and cultural traditions, such as the Passover Seder meal.

Lent, Passover, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and a host of other religious observances in the East and West all revolve in some way or another around food and culture. The confluence and the impact of those practices is why LSU Religious Studies Professor Gail Hinich Sutherland is presenting “Religion, Food and… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Jan. 17, 2015

JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL: 7:30 p.m., The Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. A genial slacker, a private investigator and a femme fatale join forces to rescue a kidnapped holy man in “The Wonders.” ANNIVERSARY: 8 a.m., St. Joseph Baptist Church, 2510 Tennessee St.… Continue reading →

River Community Church to present ‘Birds’ exhibit

Photo provided by AMY CRANE -- 'The Birds of Uganda' by Krista Roche

The River Community Church in Prairieville will exhibit paintings from the “Birds of a Feather” Show held recently at VanGuard Gallery in Stephen Wilson Stained Glass studio in Baton Rouge. The exhibit will be open at the church, 36367 Old Perkins Road, Jan. 18 through Feb. 5. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon Sundays and… Continue reading →

‘Pray for Soul of La.’ set Jan. 24 at Southern

Photo provided by VELTA J. CROSS -- Makeover day -- When Vera Major and Velta Cross, eucharistic ministers from St. Isidore Church who serve at Northridge Care Center in Baker, got a request from one of the residents for a little help with their hair, they sprang into action. Before it was all over, the center's residents (including the men) had shared lots of laughter and good grooming. Expert help on how to style wigs was provided by Ray Cosmetology School students, from left, Jovonda Hughey, Tayla Hickman, Ella Dean and Tamara Collins under the direction of Melvena Ray. The women residents also had their makeup done. The activity was coordinated with the center's CEO, Brock Naquin, and activity director Tunisia Wallace. Civic Pride of Baker, Baker-Zachary Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Doris Alexander provided make up and wig supplies for the Dec. 2 activity.

A rally to “Pray for the Soul of Louisiana” will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, in the F.G. Clark Center on the Southern University campus. According to a news release, the prayer rally will include leaders of faith-based and justice organizations, as well as concerned citizens, and is free and open… Continue reading →

St. Matthew Orthodox celebrates Christ's birth in December and January

Photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- The children of St. Matthew the Apostle Orthodox Church perform their annual Nativity Pageant, called a 'yolka,' on Jan.  4. Performing several Christmas songs in the pageant are, from left, Valentina Abbot playing her violin, Rachel Labue, Natalie Pituch, Anna Christian holding Alexei Abbot, Alexander Pituch, Delia Cajaveanu, Christopher Lobue.

Many churches held Christmas services the Sunday before Dec. 25. St. Matthew the Apostle Orthodox Church celebrated Christ’s birth that same Sunday — and again this week. “We tell the same story, but it unfolds at a little different rate and a different calendar,” the Rev. Mark Christian said prior to the… Continue reading →

Faith Matters: Abuse survivor moves from past to pastor

the Rev. A. Austin

Years of sexual and physical abuse didn’t conquer Angel Austin. She found the faith to overcome that painful episode of her life and also found deliverance in Christ. “Knowing Christ enabled me to accept what I could not change and what people had done to me. But he showed me what they did to me was… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Jan. 10, 2015

Rev. Terry K. Anderson

AUTHOR APPEARANCE: 7:30 p.m., Bethany World Prayer Center, 13885 Plank Road. Sandi Krakowski, author of “#BEMORE: 77 Secrets to Your Powerful Life,” will talk about the message and inspiration behind her book. Free. VIP admission is at 6 p.m. Cost is $97 and includes question-and-answer session with the author, front-row seating… Continue reading →

BR church to webcast live economic equality forum

From Jan. 22-25, St. James Episcopal Church’s Center for Spiritual Formation will host the broadcast of a diverse group of scholars, faith leaders and economists offering strategies for developing a more just economy. The sessions at the Baton Rouge center, 205 N. Fourth St., will include Dr. Cornel West, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Barbara Ehrenreich… Continue reading →

Party provides chance to overcome hurts

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Party attendees dance and sing along as Jolisa Singletary sings Christmas carols Dec. 27 during the Women Bringing Women after-Christmas Party at City Café in Baton Rouge. The party features speakers, singers, dancers and give-aways. This year's party theme was 'I Will.'

Every Christmas season, Leola O’Bear Smith remembers the pain she felt after her divorce nearly 20 years ago. “I hurt so bad after the divorce,” she said. “I never thought people could hurt so bad.” So each year on the Saturday after Christmas, Smith throws a party for all women… Continue reading →

Facets of Faith: Convention encourages combining faith, travel

Photo providede by the FTA -- Stephan Tchividjian, grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham, will speak at the Faith Travel Association meeting in New Orleans on Jan. 19.

Readers of this column know that my husband and I incorporate faith-based stops in our travels and that we encourage others to do so. The Faith Travel Association, a group dedicated to that theme, will meet in New Orleans on Jan. 19. The FTA estimates that 300 million people make… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Jan. 3, 2015

LORD’S SUPPER: 11 a.m., Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1204 St. Joseph St. The Rev. Henry J. Brown, pastor. PARENTS’ MORNING OF REFLECTION: 8:30 a.m., St. Joseph’s Academy Chapel, 3080 Kleinert Ave. The theme is “What is my Song?” Open to all interested adults,… Continue reading →

Faith Matters: 2014 had its share of big news in the Baton Rouge-area faith community

Associated Press file photo -- Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit Sept 26 in Washington, D.C.

Although devoid of any major pastoral changes, organizational shakeups, controversies or deaths for most of the year, 2014 did have its share of notable news in the Baton Rouge-area faith community. Churches and many religious organizations continued to make their presence felt in the community through feeding the homeless, fixing up homes, cleaning cemeteries, operating food pantries and other… Continue reading →

Dads and their children build mangers for Christmas lesson

Advocate photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Sawyer Earnest, 7, pounds in the nails to hold the legs on a manger she and her father Todd built during a Manger Build family-bonding activity at Parkview Baptist Church.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the babe… Continue reading →

Facets of Faith: Christmas music

For many people, the Christmas season is about music. This is true in my household. Our eclectic Christmas albums range from Handel’s “Messiah” to Dr. Demento. There are a few albums I return to when I want a dose of the Bible Christmas story with my music. Here are some… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Dec. 20, 2014


CLOTHING GIVEAWAY: 10 a.m., Greater Beulah Baptist Church, 955 E. Polk St. Free clothing in various sizes. FESTIVAL OF LESSONS & CAROLS: 5 p.m., St. James Episcopal Church, 205 N. Fourth St. Music by the St. James Treble Choir, a… Continue reading →

Christmas kettle bells work hard to meet needs

Advocate photo by Mark H. Hunter -- This sign explains how donations to the Salvation Army help the needy.

The Christmas season is probably the most challenging time of the year for many families trying to pay the bills and feed the children and still put some gifts under the tree. That’s why the Salvation Army rings bells and collects donations in red kettles all across America to help. Capt. Brett R.… Continue reading →

Faith Matters: Walking with God through challenges

Stephanie and Phillip Robinson

Stephanie Robinson never expected her husband to die before her. Born with a hole in her heart 62 years ago, she wasn’t expected to live past age 36 and even today requires an oxygen supplement 24 hours a day to breathe. Her husband, Phillip, was a bodybuilder and plant worker who took yearly physicals and had no… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Dec. 13, 2014

The Chancel Choir of University United Methodist Church will perform a Service of Lessons and Carols with orchestra accompaniment at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the church sanctuary, 3350 Dalrymple Drive, Baton Rouge. Complimentary childcare will be provided.For more information, visit or call (225) 344-0343.

A NIGHT OF INTERCESSION & WORSHIP ... THE EXPERIENCE!: Shepherd’s Gate International Ministries, 6867 Van Gogh Ave. “THE ONLY CHRISTMAS PAGEANT IN TOWN”: 3 p.m., Jefferson Baptist Church, 9135 Jefferson Highway. An original holiday production by Jefferson Baptist. Free. DETERMINED OF BATON ROUGE MUSICAL: 6 p.m.,… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Dec. 6, 2014

Dixie Echoes

THE GOOD NEWS PARADE: 1 p.m., 2100 block of Highland Road. The Alpha & Omega Sister Sorority sponsors the parade, which distributes Bibles. The parade travels from Highland to Terrance to Thomas Delpit to Roosevelt Street and back to Highland.… Continue reading →

Young Life Capernaum ministers to teens with special needs

Photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Young Life Capernaum club director Jenny Pearce, center, hangs out at Chick-fil-A during a recent club activity with sisters Kathryn Sisson, 24, and Grace Sisson, 14.

Sam Abant was having a great time with some of his best friends at the Chick-fil-A restaurant. The 23-year-old young man with special needs had his arm around a pretty college girl while she took “selfies” of them with some handsome college guys. Abant and six other young people with special needs and a half-dozen college-age… Continue reading →

Faith Matters: College coaching prepared Gant for ministry role

Photo provided by Desmond GantPastor Desmond Gant of Prince of Peace Ministries in Baton Rouge.

Coaching college football offered Desmond Gant the opportunity to recruit, mold and minister to young men. Those experiences also helped prepare Gant for his role as a minister and the pastor of Prince of Peace Ministries in Baton Rouge. “When I first got into coaching, I just wanted to change young mens’ lives,” said Gant, a… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Nov. 29, 2014

CHURCH ANNIVERSARY: 7 a.m., New Jerusalem Baptist Church, 1627 Thomas H. Delpit Drive. Celebration of the church’s 116th year. Guest preacher will be the Rev. Gregory Coates, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church of Dorseyville. ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: 11 a.m., Sweet Home Baptist Church, 343 W. Buchanan St. In celebration… Continue reading →

Jefferson Baptist presents ‘Only Christmas Pageant in Town’

Jefferson Baptist Church will present its holiday program, “The Only Christmas Pageant in Town,” Dec. 12-14. This is the 18th season that the choir, orchestra and cast of over 200 at the church will be entertaining with a Broadway-style show, which is scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12; 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 and 3… Continue reading →

United Methodist group sets communication workshop

Churches of every size and budget needs a communication strategy. Whether a pastor, professional communications staffer or a volunteer, church leaders can benefit from The Church Communication Puzzle Workshop, a half-day training session hosted by the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana on Thursday, Jan. 29. Led by former newspaper publisher and denominational marketing strategist Scott Vaughan,… Continue reading →

Holiday Bazaar features various homemade crafts

A Holiday Bazaar featuring homemade crafts of many types, including jewelry, soaps, artwork, woven baskets and services, such as massage and counseling, will be held Dec. 6-7. The bazaar, which will also include an area where youngster can select their gifts for others, and a gift wrapping on a love offering basis, will be from 9… Continue reading →

Prayer group asking for continued blessings for La. gathers outside State Capitol

Advocate photo by Mark H. Hunter -- Helen Poydras, center left, prays for God's mercy on America for 'shedding of innocent blood' during abortions during a recent prayer outreach service at the Capitol. The meeting, open to anyone, is held at 10:15 a.m. the first Saturday of the month.

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”… Continue reading →

Facets of Faith: Bible memory app and giving thanks verses

Screen image -- The verse page of the Bible Verses by Heart app presents the verse in print and in a recording. Users can tap the Learn This icon and use a fill-in-the-blank game to practice or hit the Record Recital button to practice.

For some Christians, Bible memorization is an important activity. Penguin Random House released an app that could help some with memory work. Bible Verses by Heart is based on a 2013 app called Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics. Both aim to help users memorize important works. The Bible version… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Nov. 22, 2014

PRAYER BREAKFAST: 9 a.m., Mirror of Grace Outreach, 921 N. Lobdell Blvd. Guest speakers will be Co-pastor Celeste Bean Payne, of Impact Christian Center; Minister Aldina Jackson and Minister Mary Bessie. Reservations required. (225) 300-4528 or PRAYER WALK 3.3 MILE: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Flannery Road Park,… Continue reading →

Southern Baptists add ethnic congregations to roll of churches

Photo by Mark H. Hunter -- The Rev. Carlos Rosales, pastor of First Hispanic Baptist Church, preaches to his congregation in the Fellowship Hall of Florida Blvd. Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the Southern Baptist Convention is primarily a white Southern organization, about 10,000 of the SBC’s 46,124 churches are “ethnic” congregations, according to the convention’s chief operating officer. In Louisiana, of the 1,600 churches in the Louisiana Baptist Convention, 162 churches are classified as “ethnic,” meaning they are predominantly… Continue reading →

Faith Matters: Rolling lifestyle of faith out into community

Photo provided by STEVEN ARMSTRONGInside the Hopemobile bus for Westside Community Church in Addis.

A part of Steve Armstrong died the day he buried his grandmother nearly 20 years ago. During the funeral in 1995, the then-35-year-old Armstrong also said goodbye to the old “self-centered” Steve and became a new person in Christ with a newfound love and commitment to God and others. “I came under deep conviction of my… Continue reading →

Religion Bulletins for Nov. 15, 2014

Pastor Shannon J. Warner

LIFE CHOICE: 9 a.m., Catholic Life Center, 1800 S. Acadian Thruway. A one-day Pre-Cana program for engaged couples seeking to get married in the Catholic Church. It combines talks with personal reflection and couple dialogue in a classroom setting. ANNUAL COMMUNITY CLOTHES CLOSET: 9 a.m., Greater Divine Missionary Baptist… Continue reading →

BR Baptist pastors from black, white congregations hold preaching conference

Photo by Metro Source -- Three dozen pastors and pastoral students both black and white, male and female came together for a history-making conference in Baton Rouge.

Just a few days ago in Baton Rouge, a new chapter was written in the history of black and white churches. Three dozen pastors and pastoral students, both black and white, male and female, from two different Baptist denominations met for the first Expository Preaching Conference at New Hope Baptist Church.… Continue reading →