New Orleans is bounded on the north by Lake Pontchartrain, an estuary covering 630 square miles connected to the Gulf of Mexico by the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass, and supplied with fresh water by many different rivers, tributaries, and bayous.
The Lake is good metaphor for the churches of the New Orleans Baptist Association. Our association comprises many different streams, but we are united by one heart, one hope, one identity—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our Baptist community is equal parts African American and Anglo, and we have a rapidly growing Hispanic constituency representing every nation, island, and country touching the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Our churches are composed of believers from China, Vietnam, Korea, the Pacific Rim, and, indeed, from the ends of the earth.
Multiple ethnicities mean different cultures. New Orleans Baptists embrace our diversity and celebrate our unity in Christ. We are different colors, but one blood-washed band of believers; we are different voices, but one choir of praise; we are different expressions, all proclaiming one gospel.
Among us, there are differences beyond ethnicity: socio-economic, philosophical, and political differences. As if those weren’t prickly enough, there are theological difference among our churches, too: big differences with big names like ecclesiological, soteriological, eschatological differences. Our experiences are widely different, but we’ve each experienced something much, much greater: the transformational power of God’s grace and new life in Christ! We are different, but we embrace our diversity and celebrate our unity in Christ. Differences that once led to division, separation, and opposition are now subsumed, swallowed up, in Christ. The differences that once defined us are now superseded by a unity that we have only in Christ. We treasure our unity in Christ.
New Orleans is shaped by water: Lake Pontchartrain above us, the Gulf of Mexico below us, and the Mississippi River winding through us. And Baptists here are shaped by the word of God: the Great Commandment—to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and the Great Commission—to go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded us. And winding through us all is a mighty river of grace! Grace, sheer grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within, grace that is greater than all our sin!
When you come this summer, you will enrich the kingdom and our community here. Come early. Stay late. Savor Baptist life here. And take home a taste of New Orleans.