Faith Matters for May 5, 2012

Livingston church celebrates 175 years

Joe Alain, pastor of Hebron Baptist Church
Joe Alain, pastor of Hebron Baptist Church

Only 25 years after Louisiana became a state, some folks started what is believed to be the first organized church in Livingston Parish.

This weekend, the historic Hebron Baptist Church, 24063 La. 16 in Denham Springs, is holding its 175th year anniversary festivities with fun, fellowship, food, a concert and special service.

“Everybody’s really going all out,” said the Rev. Joe Alain, the church’s senior pastor. “It’s going to be a big celebration.”

The celebration starts at 3 p.m. Saturday with an anniversary party with memorabilia, children’s activities and the groundbreaking ceremony for a new sanctuary. That will be followed by a dinner banquet and concert by the One Way Singers at 6 p.m.

Sunday’s special worship service is set for 10:30 a.m., with the Rev. Neal Green, of Virginia, as guest speaker and worship music led by Robin Moore, of Arkansas. Green has been the church’s interim pastor on two different occasions, while Moore previously led the church music and youth. Dinner will follow on the church grounds at noon.

Alain, a Florida native, has led the church for more than six years. He is one of at least 41 pastors who have served the church.

“I feel I’m a part of a great tradition here,” Alain said. “When I came here, I had a sense early on this is a church with a great past. Not only do they have a great past, they’re very passionate about missions and this church has kind of been a stalwart in the community.”

Hebron is well-respected in the city and the parish, especially for its work in missions, Alain said.

In addition to Livingston Parish and the state, the church started and has supported missions in Arizona, New Mexico, Nicaragua and Zambia.

“I just kind of feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of some really faithful men and women of God who have come before me,” said Alain, 51.

“And my prayer is always that I would at least in some small way carry along that tradition of impacting the community for Christ, because we do have such a great tradition of doing that, and I want to see that continue on.”

Longtime member Laura Wiley, the event coordinator for the 175th anniversary activities, said the event has a lot of meaning to her and her family.

“It means I have a rich and godly heritage that people that were before me left,” she said. “I feel like I have a responsibility of leading that heritage for those that will come after me.”

Wiley, 50, said Hebron has equipped her to grow spiritually and allowed her to introduce different ministries. But Wiley said it’s a loving fellowship and that was never so evident than when Wiley’s 18-year-old daughter died because of a pulmonary embolism in 2004.

“The same people who were there for me then are all still there for me,” she said.

Wiley said Hebron was formed in 1837 when members of Hephzibah Baptist Church in East Feliciana Parish petitioned fellow members to be dismissed to “join or constitute another church of like faith on the Colyell.”

Hebron initially held services in homes and then a log cabin. The present facility was built in 1955. The church has since added a Fellowship Hall, Educational Building, Christian Activity Center and is in a building program for a new sanctuary.

This weekend’s activities come on the heels of another milestone of sorts for Hebron.

Last Sunday, the church hosted the Rev. Lee Wesley as guest speaker and the predominantly black Community Bible Church, of Baton Rouge.

“It may have been the first time we’ve had a predominantly African-American church worship with us,” Alain said. “That was really well-received by our folks. Pastor Wesley preached a great message.”

For more information on the church and anniversary activities, call (225) 665-6278.

Ready to go

Istrouma Baptist Church will be taking church out to the community as part of Go Day on Sunday.

After a special 9 a.m. worship service, volunteers will scatter throughout Baton Rouge, painting housing complexes, visiting nursing home residents, planting flower beds, throwing block parties and doing other outreach work.

The Go Day theme is “Don’t just go to church … be the church.”

“The very essence of following Jesus requires that we go to a hurting world,” said the Rev. Jeff Ginn, Istrouma’s senior pastor. “Jesus demonstrated it by his own incarnation. He left comfort and ease to meet our world’s deepest needs. As his followers, we are called to do the same.”

The project is open on everyone. Call (225) 295-0775 or go to http://www.istrouma.org/go.

Simplifying the Bible

Author Wayne C. Kellis said he hopes his new book “From Chaos to Clarity: The Simplest Story Ever Told” (West Bow Press) will take some of the confusion out of reading the Bible, “the greatest of all books.”

Kellis wrote the book after his daughter asked him to write a summary of the Bible as a gift for her 25th birthday.

“Many people are unnecessarily intimidated by the Bible,” Kellis writes in his introduction. “Even though they may have heard or read stories from the Bible, they have never really understood how it all fits together. The fact the Bible has been shrouded in mystery only adds to this confusion. God’s message to mankind was never meant to be hidden or difficult to understand.”

Kellis may have succeeded in providing some new information in a precise way or at least putting in a different light.

“From Chaos to Clarity” is only 65 pages and divided into three chapters: Old Testament, Intertestamental Period and New Testament. Kellis notes that the Interestamental is not recorded in the Bible but he includes in his book to help develop a sense of history.”

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email him at trobinson@theadvocate.com.