Lake Charles church celebrating 150 years

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 6:14 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A downtown Lake Charles church will celebrate a milestone this weekend. Since the 1870s, First United Methodist Church has provided Methodists a place to call home on Broad St.

It’s quite an accomplishment to be around for 150 years, especially when you consider what the community has been through lately. Pastor Weldon Bares is one of 45 pastors to serve the church.

“The last 2 years, like for all churches and businesses in the area, have been just brutal,” said Bares. “Between the 2 hurricanes and the ice storm, COVID. It has been a difficult 2 years. But God has been faithful and God has been with us every step of the way.”

First UMC has dealt with mother nature before. First a storm in 1918. Then over a hundred years later Hurricanes Laura & Delta caused over 3 million dollars in damage.

“There was never any hesitation about repairing and rebuilding,” said church member Bart Yakupzack. “It was a fact. No matter how long it took, we were going to restore our church to where we could worship downtown.”

Music has always been an important part of the church’s traditional and contemporary worship services.

“The music ministry of the church is so exciting because we have so many opportunities for people to be involved,” said Emmie Gonsoulin, Director of Music Ministries. “We have a healthy Chancel Choir. We have 25-30 members and it continues to grow. We have the Asbury Ringers, which is an adult bell choir. We have a children’s bell choir.”

Paul Arnold has been here since 1950.

“We’ve had a long procession of great memorable people that made a terrific impression and the church continues to grow,” said Arnold.

“I find our congregation is very inclusive,” said Kayla Rigney. “We have a diverse congregation. Equal number of older members and younger members. We have a dynamic youth department.”

That diversity has kept the church serving the community.

“I really like the way we serve our community,” said Jean Kamla. “I think the church is for us here, but our faith into action is really the main thing about faith. We go out and serve our Lake Charles community in lots and lots of ways.”

First United Methodist will hold anniversary services on Sunday, October 9 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. with historical displays. A food truck fellowship with live music is set for later that afternoon from 5 - 7 p.m.

The church is located at the corner of Broad and Kirkman streets in downtown Lake Charles.