Faith SDA Church Mortgage Burning Celebration

Celebration at Faith Seventh-day Adventist Church

BATON ROUGE, LA. – In 1983 James L. Black arrived at Berean as an Infiltration Pastor. The goal was the establishing of another church in the northern part of the parish. Twenty-one Berean members came forth to join the new church, and the team began its work.

The early years were trying ones as the fledgling group gathered in various places for worship. On Oct. 20, 1984 with 32 members, the new church named Faith was organized. The first place of worship was a Baptist church. Following a Revelation seminar and a tent meeting, the membership doubled and grew. Black’s first baptismal candidate was a woman he saw sitting on her porch shelling beans. The 76 year-old began attending church and several months later, was baptized, remaining faithful until her death. In June of 1986, the Conference voted to send Black to Andrews. Membership was well over 100 with nearly $50,000 in the building fund. “I left confident that God would continue blessing and one day provide a permanent place of worship.”The ‘one day’ was a 3-acre purchase including a 1941 army barrack which would serve as the church. In 1991 under Pastor Archie Byrd, Faith held the groundbreaking for its 7330 Mickens Road home. Between 1984 and 2017, pastors were Archie Byrd, Michael Horton, Alfred Booker, Wilmore Green, Helvis Moody, Raynell Smith, and Michael Bailey. It is now 2018; eight charter members are awaiting the Resurrection, Joseph Footman is in his second year as pastor and Faith is ready to claim God’s house as its own. The appropriate theme “Triumphs over Trials” dominated the June 23–30 week which would feature Pastors Black, Moody, Bailey and Smith, and culminating with a message from Conference President Calvin Watkins.

The week began with Black, considered the “father” of the Faith Church. Moody followed with the distinction of being only 24 years-old at the time of his assignment. Bailey’s one year tenure from 2016 to 2017 was next. Smith, whose 2004-2014 serve was the longest of all, brought the nightly celebration to a close.

“Today is all about building up the Kingdom of God,” said President Calvin Watkins of the ceremony attributed to the ministries of Pastors Smith and Bailey. Charter members were honored with corsages and boutonnieres followed by the Mortgage Burning Litany. With Willie Lee holding the container and Footman with the lighter, the grand finale began. After several attempts, the once treasured paper went up in flames to the applause of the audience. Seconds later, nothing remained except ashes that escaped and ended up on a few of the men’s coats. A fitting end for a church once held hostage by debt. After applauding Footman for his role in Faith’s celebration, Watkins’ Rotten Scoundrel message featured the tragedy of God’s appointed high priest Eli and how his failure to discipline his sons not only led to their tragic end, but to his as well. “God can put one up and take him down. Are sons of Eli running our churches? Then we’ve got to kick out the spirit of Eli’s sons. I am grateful that our God loves His church regardless of its imperfections.” Pastor Footman’s vision for Faith includes a farther presence in the surrounding community. A recent sermon “No Community Left Behind” spoke to that effort.


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