HARVEY, La. (BP)–When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the New Orleans area Aug. 29, pastor Thomas Glover Jr. thought his city and church were destroyed.
Glover believes prayer, coupled with Southern Baptists’ efforts through the Cooperative Program, made the difference for New Covenant Community Church during its darkest hour.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we probably wouldn’t have been able to continue without the Cooperative Program,” said the pastor of the Southern Baptist African American congregation.
Immediately after the storm, Glover wondered how his church would survive. Katrina had reduced New Covenant’s membership from 60 to 30 and slashed the church’s finances.
That’s when Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program lent a helping hand.
Not only did Glover receive a salary supplement through the Adopt-a-Church initiative -– a program that provides monetary or labor assistance to hurricane-affected areas -– but New Covenant was given thousands of dollars through CP Missions to support their ministries.
In Katrina’s aftermath, New Covenant’s ministry to the community has greatly increased, the pastor said.
From October to December, church members and their friends distributed water, food and clothing to residents in the church’s Woodmere neighborhood.
And last Christmas, New Covenant distributed 200 toys and bicycles to 50 families in the neighborhood, two of whom have joined the church.
By the end of March, the church will offer Bible studies for those in the Woodmere neighborhood. Glover hopes the Bible studies will introduce the residents to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and build New Covenant’s membership back to pre-Katrina status.
“We’re starting to grow again,” said Glover, who is the first black moderator of the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. “Our biggest obstacle is not having a permanent church home. It’s great that another church is letting us use their facilities, but after awhile it becomes difficult for us.”
Since its birth in 1985, New Covenant has called an apartment, storefront building and two church facilities home.
For the past four years, Woodmere Baptist Church -– a predominantly Anglo congregation -– has allowed New Covenant to hold worship services and conduct other ministries in its building. Those ministries have included Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday School for a wide range of age groups and outreach to Woodmere Elementary School.
Above all, Glover said his church has emphasized discipleship.
“I’ve always felt that it’s not good enough for people to just come to church and not grow spiritually,” said Glover, who helped plant the first African American SBC churches in Baton Rouge and Shreveport. “We’re about making people more spiritually mature. I’ve seen people join this church and trust in the Lord like they never have before. And hopefully, they’ll disciple others also.”
Brian Blackwell is a writer for the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, on the Web at www.baptistmessage.com.