Memorial Baptist: A Turnaround Church graphic

 

Church revitalizations often get overlooked, but it is a cause of great celebration when a congregation reverses the life cycle. Memorial Baptist Church in Metairie is an example of a church that has returned to vitality from death’s door.

Four years ago, Memorial Baptist almost had to shut its doors and pull out of the New Orleans Baptist Association. It was hemorrhaging members almost as quickly as its school was students. Poor decision-making and discord were killing the church and its ministries.

Memorial’s core membership had been depleted to the point that the church could no longer cover its operating expenses. Not wanting to see its property sold off, a remnant of members had considered merging with other churches. In desperation, Memorial contacted NOBA.

NOBA connected Memorial with First Baptist New Orleans. This sister church sent one of its members, Dan Pritchett, a seminary student and Sunday school teacher, to initially provide six weeks of pulpit supply. That six-week term was extended, and within 14 weeks the church’s vital signs began to stabilize. Memorial was able to resume paying its bills. Soon thereafter, the church began to believe that its light would not be extinguished. It called Dan Pritchett to be its full-time pastor.

Reflecting on the past few years, Pastor Dan Pritchett says, “When I was sent out from FBNO in 2011 to provide pulpit supply, Memorial was a mess. The past four years have been filled with triumphs and tribulations, but I am happy to say that God has done an amazing work in our church for His glory. When I first arrived, we were lucky if we had forty people on a Sunday morning. Now we have over 100 people in regular attendance.”

Elementary School ClassroomAfter making a leadership change by bringing on Jerry Riggs as principal, Memorial Baptist ELC and School are healthier than they’ve been in decades. Their summer camp brought in over 300 kids this year. Many of those kids came to Memorial’s VBS where several made professions of faith.

“Regardless of the numbers, the best part of being at Memorial is that the Spirit of God is here again,” according to Pastor Pritchett. “ People feel loved and accepted. They know that we exist because of the cross of Christ.

This month Memorial Baptist completed a $750,000 renovation to their Education Building.  It will be dedicated to the Lord on Wednesday, September 16 at 7 p.m.

Memorial invites all NOBA pastors and their wives to this special event to celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness and grace to all churches that will call upon Him.

“I want to personally thank NOBA for its sensitivity to God’s direction and leadership four years ago,” says Pastor Pritchett.  “Without NOBA’s influence, I would not be where I am today.”


2 responses to “Memorial Baptist: A Turnaround Church”

  1. Craig Bennen says:

    We were married there in 1972 and were members until we moved to the west bank in 1976.
    Relatives and friends of our have been there for years.We were aware of the difficult times and decline that had taken place over the years.Nothing seemed to be able to get it going again.God’s man in God’s timing came together and the result is evident.We moved back in “the Parish” and have visited a few times and are thrilled at what God is doing there.I’m a deacon and we are 30 year members of Calvary Baptist on the west bank.Who knows ,maybe a dual membership is in our future.Nice post on facebook.Pastor Dan and his staff are knocking it out of the park.

    Yours in Christ,Craig Bennen

  2. Scott Shirley says:

    DAN WAS AN ANSWER TO PRAYER:

    I Am So Happy for Dan and Carianne. They are one of the sweetest couples I know and we could not be more proud of them. Dan is at home in the exposition of scripture and Carianne is at home making you feel like her home is your home. These are two important ingredients in forming an evangelistic power couple. I would say that what made Dan and Carianne such an appealing choice for FBNO to send to Memorial was that, among many pleasant characteristics, when FBNO wanted to start a Sunday School class for young internationals, the church was simply able to absorb the group which Dan had already been leading for a couple of years. The two of them moved to New Orleans for seminary, but they were missionaries first. I hope other young ministers will take note of their conviction (without waiting to be asked by a church) to host Bible studies with internationals or perhaps one of the other vulnerability groups in the Bible (viz., widows, orphans, and aliens). And I hope that other young ministers will likewise demote their education—per the direction of the seminary itself—to a status lower than the Great Commission.

    Rom 11:13-14 (adapted)
    Inasmuch then as I am [a minister to internationals], I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow [ministers] and [inspire] some of them.

    NOT ENTIRELY FAIR TO PREVIOUS LEADERSHIP:

    If Dan is the instrument to lead Memorial Baptist’s revitalization, the previous pastor was the instrument keeping its pulse. If the MBC is on the rebound today, it is because the previous pastor, at great peril to himself, placed himself between the descending church and its impending collision. He was the captain who would not abandon his ship. His decision-making was life-sustaining. I hope ministers of all ages will see the nobility in this, that he refused to forsake his calling despite the fact that his many talents could have landed him a job elsewhere. His current church should consider itself blessed beyond many churches, for its pastor is no hired hand who would run at the sight of wolves. His conviction and calling are sure. He is a man of whom the world is not worthy and he has gained approval in my sight, though he would not get to lead the church whose comeback he foresaw.

    Hebrews 11:37–40 (NASB95)
    They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

    May the God who sends one and calls another bless both of these beloved men and their families.

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