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  Church History  

A Brief History

of First Baptist Church


The First Baptist Church of Harahan began when a group of Baptist families began meeting in 1923 as a Bible study, and organized as a mission of St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in 1924. Services were held in the school house on Oak Street, which later became the old city hall. Ministers working in the new mission were Rev. Carmon and Rev. Stewart, who were students at the Baptist Bible Institute in New Orleans. The first converts of the new mission were baptized in the Mississippi River. The church emerged from mission status and was constituted on June 25, 1926. Rev. G. K. Fortenberry was called as the first pastor of the new church. The church was incorporated on September 22, 1927.


In 1923, a group of Baptists organized a Bible study that would become a mission, and eventually a church in the heart of Harahan. To illustrate their vision, Jefferson Highway would not be paved for several more years and the Huey P. Long Bridge would not be built for another 12 years.  Harahan City was a new and bustling township in rural Jefferson parish, populated mostly by railroad workers and their families. Those early Baptists had a vision to see a church that would serve as a lighthouse to the growing community.


The first property was acquired at the present location in 1926, and the original building is still standing. The classroom wing of the original building was added in 1939. In 1954, the property at 6200 Roddie was acquired for the purpose of serving as a pastorium, at a cost of $15,000. An additional lot on Oak Street was acquired in 1959, on which the fellowship hall building was built in 1963. The lot which is now the parking lot was acquired in 1972. An additional lot and house was acquired in 2006 to provide needed Sunday School space.


The church has been served through the years by seventeen pastors. Of particular note are Rev. J. D. Hughs and Rev. Keith Kippes. Rev. Hughs  served as pastor for almost 36 years, beginning in 1937. He was tragically killed in a train accident. While Rev. Kippes served only briefly as pastor, he served for nearly twenty years as Associate Pastor.  He was elected as Pastor in 2009 and died of a sudden heart attack only months later. Dr. David B. Eastland currently serves as pastor.


The church has sponsored a number of missions through the years. Of particular note is the Dawn Williams Memorial Mission in Zombia, Milawi. In addition, the church has been instrumental in the training of numerous students of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who have gone on to serve as ministers, missionaries, and Christian workers around the world.


Though the church experienced a downward attendance spiral during the last half of the Twentieth Century, the first decade of the new century has seen a rebirth of the mission mindset of the church. Our Sunday School attendance numbers have hit levels not seen in almost forty years.


The future of First Baptist Harahan looks bright. The stability of core neighborhoods of Harahan is an excellent indicator of future stability of church members. In addition, Harahan continues to be a popular location to raise a family, so the influx of potential families seems relatively assured. FBCH is located between a group of very stable neighborhoods and a group of more transitory neighborhoods which often serve as an introduction to Harahan. It has been said that the raw ingredients of church growth are lost people and the grace of God. Harahan has no shortage of lost people. God has shown that he has no shortage of grace.


Pastors Who Have

Served Our Church


G. K. Fortenberry

Daniel Powell

V.M. Dykes

T. B. Yopp

W. B. Currie

J. B. Coston

Jesse Dudley (J. D.) Hughs

Ralph Scott

Jerry Bass

David Cleeland

Randy Foster

Randy Capote

Arlen Jenkins

Jeff Tisdale

Doug Thompson

Carl Hubbert

Keith Kippes

David B. Eastland