A group of BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) students from the state of Georgia spent their fall break with us recently. Among other things they cleared out underneath the bunk house to make way for a new outdoor kitchen area. They also cleared the back lot of the Mercy House, worked in our distribution center, and several other things. What a joy to see students scattered around our campus reading their bibles during their quiet time,” making themselves at home in our sanctuary for evening worship, and working hard during the day for the good of others.
Over the past couple of years mission trips to Rebuild Lakeshore have begun to morph into retreat / service project combos. As the immediate urgency of Katrina disaster relief begins to wind down, I praise the Lord that God has seen fit to continue to use Lakeshore Baptist Church for his glory in the lives of brothers and sisters in Christ from across the country. As things progress, it looks like the Lord has plans to use us as sort of a “Mercy Ministry Labratory.” What better way to mature a group of disciples than immersive intense “on the job training?” God uses service to others as a means of sanctification in the lives of believers to conform us to his image. I pray that we will continue to be a place to see spiritual formation cultivated, for years to come.
As this transition takes place, we still have plenty of work to do. Our distribution center has been seeing more folks than ever coming in needing assistance with food and clothing. Don’t forget we can always use non-perishable food items such as canned goods, clothing, especially mens clothing, and household item donations. We look forward to breaking ground on our new sanctuary some time after the first of the year, demolition of Katrina-blighted properties continues, and I’m running into folks on a weekly basis that find themselves in desperate need of one kind or another.
So please, don’t forget about us. Remember us in prayer, include us in your missions giving budget, and consider making a trip to the gulf coast to see God at work in your life.
If you have been following our progress, you know that we have had a mullti-building master plan in place for the last few years. The church office, bunk house, the Mercy House, and the warehouse are all complete. As we prepared to break ground on the Fellowship Hall / Sunday School building we decided to reassess the overall design before moving forward on the final stage. Long story short, we have made a slight change in our construction strategy . Among other considerations, the new plan will save a considerable amount of money compared to the original proposal. We have received word from the Hancock County Building Department that they will allow us to use the undercroft of the Sanctuary for Sunday School classroom space, provided we build with flood resistant materials and follow all the FEMA guidelines for spaces below the BFE (Base Flood Elevation). This came as wonderful news and allows us to begin construction on our sanctuary sooner rather than later.
Over the next few months we will turn the lower level of the bunk house into an outdoor kitchen, dismantle the old camp dining hall, and prepare the site for construction. Meanwhile, we will hammer out the details for the new church building. We are leaning toward an old fashioned “Puritan Meeting House” style. Lord willing, we could break ground as early as March 2012.
Over 600 different churches have traveled to the gulf coast over the last six years to work in the relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts of Rebuild Lakeshore and Lakeshore Baptist Church since Hurricane Katrina. One of those churches, First Baptist Church of Tullahoma Tennessee has made over a dozen trips. They recently spent another week in Lakeshore lending their hand to several projects. Among other things, they laid the tile in the screened in living area of my little house. I can not tell you how humbling it is to have brothers in Christ like these guys.
I send you greetings, in the name of Christ, from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. On behalf of our church and community I want to thank you for your commitment to the ministry God has granted us. I do not know how we would have made it through the difficult days following Hurricane Katrina without your prayerful support and encouragement. I am writing this letter to our faithful partners to share with you some exciting news.
On October 30, 2011 we will celebrate a 100 year milestone. Lakeshore Baptist Church began in 1911. The minutes of the first meeting of the congregation records that the original members professed a single theological affirmation that “Christ is the head of the church,” followed by a prediction that the church would produce “much good.” One hundred years later we desire to stand firm under the headship of Christ and continue to persevere in the “good” ministry God has granted. Please consider sending a card or letter to encourage the congregation as part of this centennial event. As pastor, I know hearing from you would bring our folks much joy.
Six years ago, Lakeshore Baptist chose to place the reconstruction of her own buildings on hold while we undertook a massive mercy ministry focused on the needs of our storm ravaged community. For six years our faithful folks have worshiped in temporary structures for the glory of God. Even the initial construction on the property began with a bunk house to facilitate this ministry and the Mercy House to continue demonstrating Christ-like compassion on those in need. We have traveled a long road of recovery. I am excited to announce that we now stand almost ready to break ground on the main church buildings containing a spacious fellowship hall, full restrooms, a well-equipped kitchen, Sunday School classrooms, and a beautiful church sanctuary. If you would like to share in the joy of reconstruction with us, please consider making a financial contribution to the “Lakeshore Baptist Church building fund.”
God’s gracious hand of providence holds the future of Lakeshore Baptist Church securely in his grip. If the Lord sees fit to give us another 100 years of ministry on the coast before his return, I pray that he will find us faithful to our mission as we stand shoulder to shoulder with partners like you who join our voice and efforts for the glory of God.
Pastor Don A. Elbourne Jr.
Lakeshore Baptist Church
6028 Lakeshore Road
Bay St. Louis MS 39520