It's more than business as usual at Elm Grove Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.
In addition to offering fine teaching and preaching, a vibrant worship experience, active ministries and all other things spiritual, Elm Grove offers local black-owned businesses a place to showcase their goods and services as part of the Business Korner.
"Every first Sunday, we intentionally try to promote black businesses, especially in our neighborhood," said the Rev. Errol Domingue, pastor of the church, 1069 N. 38th St., which worships at 8 a.m. and noon. "Between services, our congregation goes through and sees what they're selling, what they're doing."
Domingue said opening their doors to businesses is one way the church puts its faith into action.
"The Bible says faith without works is dead," he said.
The foundation scripture for the Business Korner is Deuteronomy 8:18: "But remember the Lord our God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today."
The Business Korner is able to reach a broad spectrum of people, Domingue said.
"The most positive thing is that we offer the space and have people from all across our community with various services and wares," he said. "We've had everybody from drugstores, Hosea's Cleaners, which have been in our community 100 years, tailors and, of course, women selling jewelry and all this stuff that women buy."
The Business Korner started about five years ago. But after a break, it was revived about a year ago with Ella Morgan taking over as coordinator. Morgan said she tries to schedule three or four businesses each month.
"Most of them have been glad to do it because it provides visibility for their business," Morgan said. "It's been pretty good."
Businesses can take advantage of free exposure.
"A lot of our business owners don't have the funds to do the advertisement," she said. "This helps them to be able to advertise for their businesses, so it means a lot to me, and it means a lot to them. … They are very happy to have this opportunity, and they are very proud of our church for giving them a chance to come in. Some of them will say they will take it back to their pastor, and see if it's something their pastor will consider."
The Business Korner may even have a deeper meaning for the 63-year-old Morgan. Her father owned a grocery store on nearby 44th Street for more than 30 years. She knows the importance of a black-owned business to the community and being able to aid those efforts has renewed her passion and her faith.
"I think that we've lost our value as far as businesses in the black community," she said. "We've allowed other races to come in and take over our community. For me, I think that it's helped me grow in my faith, because we are adding value back and we're helping to build back our neighborhood."
Businesses owners like her father garnered respect from adults and children, Morgan said.
"We grew up where everybody on our street, and even back in the park, were aware of my dad's store," she said. "We just kind of provided a service that everybody needed. So they came in, and they respected him and the family because he was able to provide groceries and vegetables and credit to people as they needed it."
Morgan left Baton Rouge for Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama, before returning in 2015 and joining Elm Grove.
"It's a ministry," she said. "To me to be able to help other businesses build up really helps me feel like I'm giving back to the neighborhood."
Morgan and Domingue would like to see the Business Korner add young entrepreneurs by the end of the year.
"I'm hoping that seeing the black businesses come in will inspire them to want to own businesses as they grow up and will be interested in talking to the owners," Morgan said. "I hope it will help them to realize they can own businesses, also."
For more information on the Business Korner, call (225) 343-7865.
Another day. Another blessing.
Some people may make fun of Peter for trying to walk like Jesus — on water.
Here's the story from Matthew 14:29-30: "Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
People may laugh at how Peter started to get scared and go under and hollered out to Jesus "SAVE ME!"
Remember, it was Jesus who asked him to take that step out of the boat. I don't believe Jesus would have asked him to leave the boat if he didn't have a plan to save him — just as he has a plan to save each one of us.
Peter said what we all should say to Jesus at some point in our lives — "Save me" — then be willing to step out and walk like Jesus in all areas of our lives.