Our Story: Memorial Baptist Church
Memorial Baptist Church was established on May 22, 1957 in Metairie, Louisiana. Their first pastor, Brother Marvin Sanders, taught the church in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Alverson. When the church grew too large to meet in a home, it expanded and held its services at St. Martin Episcopal School, and later, in the cafeteria of East Jefferson High School.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Alverson; 1957
In July of that same year, part of Memorial's current property was purchased, and in October the church was welcomed into the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. In January of 1958, Memorial held a groundbreaking ceremony for the church's first building, a new sanctuary.
Groundbreaking ceremony; 1958
In 1962, Brother George Feazall was called as pastor of Memorial where he served for twenty-three years. In 1963, the church acquired two used army barracks for additional education and children's ministry space. In 1965, a third building was constructed as part of the campus of Memorial Baptist. This two-story building contained the fellowship hall, kitchen, and additional education space.
George Feazell (far right) and church members
The 1970's were a time of tremendous growth for Memorial Baptist Church. Most of this expansion came about from the church's promotional campaign called "Together We Build." During these years, some of the highest numbers of salvations and baptisms took place in the history of the church. Additionally, several high school students committed their lives to full time Christian ministry and are now serving in churches all across the United States.
Memorial Baptist Youth Group; 1970's
In 1981, Memorial partnered with a Chinese Baptist church to meet in the facilities and conduct weekly worship services. After fifteen years of collaboration, the Chinese church was able to raise enough money for its own building. This church has continued to serve the Chinese community of Metairie to this day.
Groundbreaking ceremony for New Orleans Chinese Baptist Church
Also in 1981, the church erected a new children's building. This would serve as a home for Memorial's "Mother's-Day-Out" and Elementary School. It allowed the church to extend its weekly ministries from babies through sixth grade. In 1982, the church called Dr. Jerry Pember to be the Principal of the School. Within three years the school had grown to include an eighth grade.
Memorial Baptist School Teachers
All three front campus buildings, including the new children's building (far right); 1983
Hurricane Katrina Damage; 2005
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Southeast Louisiana. The church suffered extensive damage and would go through two and a half years of construction and repairs before moving back into the sanctuary. The celebration was short lived, however. After only seven weeks of conducting services in the newly renovated sanctuary, Hurricane Gustav took the entire roof off for a second time. The church had to remains steadfast in their faith and rebuild.
In March of 2011, Memorial's leadership called First Baptist Church of New Orleans to assist with directing the church. First Baptist said that they would send Dan Pritchett, who was serving as a Sunday school teacher to fill the pulpit for six weeks. After the six weeks were completed, Pritchett stayed on during the next eight weeks to help the church stabilize by preaching each Sunday and continuing staff and leadership meetings. At the end of the Summer of 2011, the church asked him if he would be their pastor. On August 7, 2011, Dan Pritchett was voted in as pastor of Memorial Baptist where he continues to serve to this day.
In the Summer of 2012, Pastor Dan Pritchett brought on Jerry Riggs to the the Principal of Memorial Baptist School. Since that time, multiple campus beautification projects, building renovations, and upgrades have been completed. The biggest projects to date include a complete renovation of the two story education building into a modern elementary school, as well as the construction of a brand new gymnasium and middle school academic facilities. Since Jerry Rigg's tenure as Principal, the school has more than quadrupled in size.
Pastor Dan and Mr. Riggs consider Memorial Baptist School to be the church's largest and most successful ministry to the community. They have both worked tirelessly to unite the school and church for one single purpose - to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Over the years, dozens of children and their parents have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the Christian influence of the school and its partnership with the church.
From left to right: Principal Jerry Riggs, Administrator Karla McKnight, and Pastor Dan Pritchett