Bethany Church is reaching out into the heart of the city.
The new Bethany Mid City location officially launches with services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday at Baton Rouge Community College.
“This is what the Lord has placed in our church,” said Dustin West, who will serve as the new campus pastor along with his wife, Kristin. “We’re passionate about every nook and cranny and every neighborhood in Baton Rouge and the people who live there. There’s a lot of people who live and populate the Mid City area who were very interested in having a campus close to them where they could bring family and friends.”
The services will be held in the 500-seat Magnolia Theater.
“We’re expecting a great turnout,” West said. “Weekend services are going to be exciting, high-energy and deep spirituality. So it’s going to be a really strong weekend presence and we’re excited about it.”
Bethany’s presence will not only be felt at BRCC on Sundays, said West, 28.
“We’re going to be launching an outreach program in the Mid City area and serving homeless shelters and just serving the community wherever possible and let them know Jesus loves them,” West said. “We’ll be out and about the community, doing anything we can at BRCC.”
The Mid City location will be Bethany’s fifth campus, joining the South campus in Baton Rouge, the North campus in Baker, the Livingston campus in Walker and a Hispanic campus in Baton Rouge. The Rev. Jonathan Stockstill and his wife, Angie, are Bethany’s senior pastors.
“The vision of our pastor is to be a church that launches campuses. We just believe that the more campuses we can plant, the bigger our outreach is going to be and the more opportunities we have to meet people where they are,” West said.
The people make it a great area of opportunity, he added.
“Mid City is such a melting pot. There’s poverty; there’s wealth,” West said. “There’s probably every race in the world represented within 2 miles.”
Sunday morning services in the Magnolia Theater will consist of live bands for praise and worship. Stockstill’s message from the South campus will be broadcast on a 20-foot theater-style video screen.
“We’re going to have really exciting contemporary worship,” West said.
West, who started in ministry as a worship leader about 10 years ago, said he was honored to be asked to be one of the faces of the Mid City campus.
“I truly believe there’s not a better pastoral staff in America than Bethany,” said West, who joined the church three years ago. “There’s so much integrity, so many great people that are a part of this church. … I’m just honored to be a part of Bethany, period — in any way, shape or form, any capacity. It’s really just icing on the cake to serve in this role at Mid City.”
West said he started “serving” as an 8 year old, but it wasn’t until age 13 that he had a “more-defining salvation experience.”
That experience has inspired West to serve.
“When I started in ministry, I told the Lord I’d do anything he’d ask me to do; I’d go anywhere, whatever that means. I just consider this is another opportunity to be a servant in his kingdom and to service people and to love on Baton Rouge,” he said. “ … I just feel like it’s part of God’s calling on my life to pastor and disciple and love people.”
Bible on the Bayou
Connecting generations through the word of God will be among the key discussions at the Bible on the Bayou biblical and ministry retreat set for Oct. 3 at St. Alma Baptist Church, 12861 La. 416, Lakeland.
“Each generation has its own address, its own identity, its own views and values, but the word of God … has not changed even though the generations have changed,” said the Rev. Mary Moss, St. Alma’s pastor. “We have to meet people at their address, and that’s what this conference is going to do. It’s an intentional outreach to boomers, Generation X as well as millennials. We will hear from those voices.”
The conference’s theme is “To Serve This Present Age.”
One-hour workshops, which begin at 8:30 a.m., are set on mission and ministry, music and social justice. A panel discussion between boomers, Generation X’ers and millennials is set for 11:30 a.m.
The Rev. Lamar Batiste, an associate minister at St. Mary Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, will close out the conference at 2 p.m.
“He’s (Batiste) a young preacher who sees a value in education, and being able to stand and preach authentically and to preach the word of God with confidence — and being able to take the text and rightfully divide the word of truth,” Moss said.
Other speakers and facilitators will include Bishop Charles E. Wallace, of Oasis Christian Center in Baton Rouge; Pastor Fred Jeff Smith, of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Baton Rouge; the Pastor Errol Domingue, of Elm Grove Baptist Church in Baton Rouge; Pastor Angela Lee Domingue, of New Canaan Baptist Church in Baton Rouge; Rickey Draper, minister of music at the Rose Hill Church in Baton Rouge; and the Pastor Donald Boutte, of St. John Baptist Church in New Orleans.
The opening workshops are “ Up Close and Personal: Cultivating My Prayer Life” by Angela Lee Domingue; “Authentic Worship: Worthy Is the Lamb — Music That Honors God and Meets the Needs of People” by Draper; “Hymns of the Church: Reason, Relevancy and Renewal Developing an Appreciation of and Love for the Great Hymns of the Church” by Smith; and “Responding to the Community’s Cry — A Look at Systemic Ills and Their Impact While Exploring Possible Answers and Solutions” by Domingue.
“(Smith) has a deep appreciation for hymns and I do, too, because I think they have a place in church,” Moss said. “He’s going to bring the richness of history as well as the desire to see hymns not replaced in our churches with other music. ... (Draper) sees the relevance in both.”
Workshops at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. will include “Connecting Church to Community: Reaching Beyond to Those Who Need Us the Most to Make Mission a Reality” by Wallace; and “God’s Justice and Speaking Truth to Power: Unmuting the Voice of God — Micah 6:8” by Boutte.
Domingue and Boutte are well-versed and experienced in the area of social justice, Moss said.
“It’s simply means to do the right thing according to God’s command,” Moss said. “It will speak to what does God require of us if we’re his people. ... Boutte will look at the theological element, and Pastor Domingue will look at it from the practical perspective,” Moss said.
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or by email to email@example.com