NEW ORLEANS — The Rachel
Sims Baptist Mission and the Carver Baptist Center — now owned and operated by
the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) North American Mission Board (NAMB) —
will close effective Dec. 31, 2010. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, ownership of both
properties will transfer to the New Orleans Baptist Association.
“The closing of the two ministry centers and the property transfer reflects
NAMB’s process over the last 12 years of giving NAMB-owned properties to local
Baptist associations or churches,” said Richard Leach, the mission board’s team
leader for servant/ministry evangelism in Alpharetta, Ga. The New Orleans
Baptist Association (NOBA, formerly the Baptist Association of Greater New
Orleans) is an association of 107 Southern Baptist churches in the New Orleans
“For several years, dating back before Hurricane Katrina, our three entities —
NOBA, NAMB and the Louisiana Baptist Convention — have discussed a new Southern
Baptist ministry strategy for New Orleans,” Leach said.
Under the “2020 Vision” strategy adopted by NOBA in 2008, NOBA, the Louisiana
Baptist Convention (LBC) and NAMB remain full partners in the “rebuilding of
New Orleans for the glory of God.” The strategy agreement includes the transfer
of assets from NAMB to NOBA.
“The Baptist community in New Orleans is grateful for the historic partnership
we have shared with NAMB,” said C. Duane McDaniel, executive director of the
New Orleans Baptist Association. “From the founding of the SBC in 1845 — when
the Domestic Mission Board (now NAMB) was commissioned to reach the great city
of New Orleans — to more recent years when Southern Baptist volunteers through
NAMB poured in by the thousands to help rebuild the city after Hurricane
Katrina, New Orleans has been the focus of our cooperative efforts to share the
“Now, five years post-Katrina, we are turning the page to a new chapter,”
McDaniel said. “Building on the foundation that has been laid, we are looking
to the future, excited about the possibilities for partnering with NAMB, LBC
and churches across the SBC in a newly envisioned mission/rebuild strategy to
reach New Orleans through church planting, compassion ministries and volunteer
“There is yet much to be done in this city, and we believe our very best days
are ahead of us,” McDaniel said.
North American Mission
Board has turned over to local Baptist associations and churches. A second
ministry in New Orleans, Carver Baptist Center, also will close, while a third,
Baptist Friendship House, will remain open.
The Carver Center —established in 1951 — is located at 3701 Annunciation St.,
while the Rachel Sims Baptist Mission – founded in 1910 — is located at 729 2nd
St., a mile and a half from each other on the edge of the city’s Garden
District. Both centers are primarily involved in after-school ministries for
Leach said Larry Miguez, director over both of the centers, and Linda
Middlebrooks, director of programs at Rachel Sims, will retire under the
current retirement incentive now being offered to all NAMB employees age 54 and
older with at least five years’ service. Jennifer Fannin, assistant director at
the Carver Center, will have the option of accepting a severance package from
“Words cannot express how much we appreciate and applaud the dedicated
Christian service of Larry, Linda and Jennifer,” Leach said. “Only God knows
how many lives they touched and reached for Jesus Christ during their many
years of service.”
A third Southern Baptist ministry center in New Orleans, Baptist Friendship
House -– located at 813 Elysian Fields Ave. and founded in 1944 — will continue
to operate as a ministry for homeless women with children.
The Baptist Friendship House is a ministry that responds to the growing number
of displaced, homeless women with children in need of food and overnight
lodging, medical assistance, education and job training. Under NOBA’s new 2020
Vision strategy, the center’s ministry may be expanded.
Kay Bennett, the center’s director since 1997, will continue in that position —
her salary paid by NAMB — although effective Jan. 1, 2011, she will be under
joint supervision of NOBA and NAMB.
“In the homeless women’s ministry, our program has ministered to 27 women and
their children each night since January of this year,” Bennett said. “In
addition, our food ministries have provided food to 76,192 people during the
first three quarters of this year.”
Bennett said, “One reason Southern Baptists created the old Home Mission Board
was to evangelize and minister in New Orleans. And we’re going to continue to
do ministry in New Orleans. Here at Friendship House, we will continue to help
people rebuild their lives — to continue to minister to homeless and abused
women and their children.”
“As NAMB and as the Home Mission Board, we’ve enjoyed many decades of ministry
in New Orleans,” Leach said. “NAMB will continue its historic partnership with
NOBA and the churches of New Orleans for years to come.”
Leach said Baptists were never more involved in New Orleans than during the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina following the Aug. 29, 2005, calamity. Thousands
of Southern Baptists from across the United States donated their time, talents
and resources to help rebuild New Orleans after the hurricane.
“Southern Baptist work in New Orleans today is better and stronger than it has
been in the five years since Hurricane Katrina forever changed the city and
churches of New Orleans,” Leach said.
As a result of the closings, mission teams that already planned and scheduled
2011 mission trips to the Carver and Rachel Sims centers will be notified and
an attempt will be made to re-schedule at other venues at a later date.
“NAMB encourages all Southern Baptists to continue to pray for the city of New
Orleans, to support the churches of the New Orleans Baptist Association and to
send volunteers to partner and work with New Orleans Baptists to meet the great
spiritual and physical needs of this mission field,” Leach said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)