“Just as John the Baptist was a forerunner to prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ, many people came before us and paved the way for the establishment of the Church in this area,” explained the New Orleans Stake President Greg Stock of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the building dedication for the Chalmette congregation’s new home of worship on Sunday July 22, 2018.
One of those members who helped pave the way is Craig Mackles, who joined the congregation in 1981. “Back then, we had to meet in school cafeterias. I have seen us grow before and know that through faith and hard work we can be a large congregation again.”
After growing in the 1980’s, the Chalmette Mormon congregation met in a chapel they built on a nice ¾ acre lot until it was completely decimated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After Katrina, Chalmette Latter-day Saints commuted to New Orleans to attend church with the New Orleans congregation until March 2015, when they were able to regather as a congregation in Chalmette. The Gethsemane Lutheran Church shared their building with them until they found a building to renovate, and last Sunday dedicated it to be their new home of worship.
Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chalmette were dispersed after Katrina and never moved back. Many previous members of the Chalmette Ward returned for the dedication ceremony and shared their stories of the importance of the Church in their lives and how they helped it grow in Chalmette.
The Church is growing and trying to reestablish itself in the Chalmette area. The Chalmette congregation’s Branch President Josh Farrell is very grateful for their newly renovated building and is leading the work of growing the branch. He explains, “Through dedicated service, I have come to know my Savior Jesus Christ. Our role on earth is to serve Jesus Christ, and we are all called to serve, love, and lift up others.” President Farrell also expressed appreciation to the Gethsemane Lutheran Church for their generosity in sharing their building.
President Stock was also very grateful for the Gethsemane Lutheran Church. Before the dedication ceremony, President Stock met with their Pastor Sandra Barnes and gave her a letter of appreciation. The two leaders spoke of their positive relationship and renewed their commitment to work together to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Chalmette community. Pastor Barnes invited the Chalmette Congregation to join them in their interfaith Thanksgiving celebration in November and President Stock warmly accepted.
During the ceremony, President Stock acknowledged and called up Barbara Brunet, the office manager for the Lutheran Church who was present at the dedication, to say a few words. She also acknowledged the congenial relationship between the two churches and expressed encouragement to continue working together. President Stock urged those present to minister to those around them. He stated, “Everybody matters. We need to make an effort to help those around us in their journey back to Heavenly Father.”
The Chalmette Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now meets at 9115 West Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette. Their sacrament meeting starts at 10 am on Sundays. Everyone is welcome.