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
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
T. B. Yopp
W. B. Currie
J. B. Coston
Jesse Dudley (J. D.) Hughs
David B. Eastland