The History of New Sunlight Baptist Church 1896 to 2019
The Historical Committee, Sis. Lizzie K. Syas, Chairperson
Revise Date: December 1, 2019
One hundred and twenty (123) years ago in the home of Sister Lou Cornish on Haskell Street, a small group under the leadership of Reverend D. Bowman and God’s guiding hand, met and united, calling their Christian Union, NEW SUNLIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH. They worshipped in Sister Cornish’s home all winter. They began to grow spiritually and numerically, and services had to be held elsewhere; a brush arbor became the place for their services. These Christians were determined that another winter would not find them without a Church home. After much hard work and prayer, they built their first church where the brush arbor once stood.
REV. D. C. BOWMAN, PASTOR
As the membership increased, they erected an edifice at 313 Haskell Street and called Reverend Bowman as pastor in 1896. Reverend Bowman served well his days and went from labor to reward before he could see the completion of his dreams.
REV. HENRY WILLIAMS, PASTOR
After the death of Reverend Bowman, the church called Reverend Henry Williams in 1914 as their pastor. He served a short time, but in a spirit of oneness, he and his faithful few built a much larger edifice that stood for over 40 years.
REV. ALEXANDER OLIVER, PASTOR
Reverend Alexander Oliver succeeded Reverend Williams in 1916. He had a brief ministry, but a spiritually rich fellowship.
REV. EDGAR KEGLAR, PASTOR
Following the departure of Reverend Oliver, Reverend Edgar Keglar accepted the pastorate in 1917. He worked untiringly and unselfishly, but he too soon moved on.
REV. J. E. DENNIS, PASTOR
Like his predecessor, Reverend J.E. Dennis accepted the pastorate in 1918 serving faithfully for one year.
REV. A. A. GUNDY, PASTOR
After much prayer, the Church called the Reverend A.A. Gundy in 1920. His ministry was very fruitful both spiritually and financially. The Church was able to purchase its first parsonage at 629 Franklin Street. The Church grew by leaps and bounds. A better spirit of worshippers could not be found.
REV. ROBERT WASHINGTON, PASTOR
Reverend Gundy accepted another call and Reverend Robert Washington, a local minister, was recommended in 1923 as acting pastor for approximately seven months.
REV. DR. MOSES T. JACKSON, PASTOR
In April 1924, the Church, through God’s guidance, called a modern Moses named Moses Tillman Jackson to lead this band of Christians. Reverend Jackson came to the Church while it was faced with a debt that was sixteen years old. He and his followers worked hard to get rid of the debts. Realizing this was a burden, he set out to relieve it by organizing a General Treasury System. Rev. Dr. Jackson presented a program to build a new and permanent structure. In 1949 a $75,000 edifice was dedicated to God.
He then organized the Usher Board, Youth Department, Baptist Training Union, Vacation Bible School, Laymen and the Boy Scout Troop. The other auxiliaries and departments gained new interest and zeal.
Reverend Jackson labored, toiled, baptized, buried and married God’s children. In January 1951, God’s continuous blessings to all became real. Again, God moved in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. He said to Reverend Jackson, “Come, rest from your labor, a job well done.” He, like all mortals, went to his rest. Again, New Sunlight was in an hour of distress, but they still knew the power of prayer and believing in God. The Church worked and prayed continuously and never grew tired. Brother Peter Collins, chairman of the Deacon Board, held the Church together in a oneness of spirit and mind.
God soon lifted the cloud of doubt in His own time and the Church was able to get another glimpse of the sun.
REV. DR. VICTOR ELIJAH WASHINGTON, PASTOR
In April of 1951, God blessed them with a young energetic leader, Reverend Victor Elijah Washington. This young leader came with dedicated hands and heart, urging all to work together and play well their part. They moved on and upward to greater heights. Despite the toils and snares, this Joshua led with all his might.
Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Victor Elijah Washington, the Church had a completed edifice with the mortgage paid; an annex was constructed with Brother Julius Charles serving as building foreman, and a Day Care Center was organized and opened in 1953. This Day Care Center was the first to be licensed by the State Department of Public Welfare. The Church under the leadership of Reverend Washington purchased an organ, piano, central air and heat, new pews, and renovated the Church. A parsonage was built on Winterhalter Street. The parsonage was designed and built by Brother Albert Eaglin. Sunlight Manor, a 130 unit federally funded apartment complex for low-income families was constructed under his leadership with a site on Winterhalter Street and another on Brick Street. Property was acquired north, south, and west of the Church. The Church also shares the blessing of two paved parking lots and two Church vans.
Under the great leadership of Pastor Victor Elijah Washington, our Church continued to achieve great strides. In 1974, we dedicated a $300,000 updated Day Care Center. The Church’s interior was remodeled and redecorated.
During the pastorate of Dr. Victor Elijah Washington, the Church acquired a Women’s Home Mission with five (5) circles, a Youth Department with five (5) groups, laymen and boys work, Junior and Senior Ushers, a Music Department with five (5) choirs and a combined chorus, Sunday School, Baptist Training Union, Boys and Cub Scout Troops, a Nurses’ Guild, and a Food Pantry for the needy. The Church also provided housing for the Theological Seminary, Adult Education and the Alcoholic Anonymous group.
Dr. V.E. Washington, a faithful hard-working servant, a generous spirit, and a never tiring energetic pastor became ill. Having served his members well, preaching, teaching, counseling, and comforting, God declared 43 chapters closed in the history of his life and opened the 44th chapter in retirement on April 24, 1994. In this chapter, Pastor V.E. Washington was given the honor of Pastor Emeritus where he served for five (5) years – a shepherd for all flock who lead us in a loving and humble manner.
During the illness of Dr. V.E. Washington, Deacon Aaron J. Cains, Chairman of the Deacon Board, with the help of Reverend Randall Washington, held the Church together and saw to it that the Pulpit had a visiting preacher so that the Church would continue to be spiritually fed.
REV. JERRY LOUIS “J. L.” FRANKLIN, PASTOR
On October 10, 1994, Reverend Jerry Louis (J.L.) Franklin was elected to become the tenth (10th) pastor of New Sunlight Baptist Church. His ministry ended March 24, 1997.
With God’s guidance, New Sunlight has come out of the valley and into His marvelous light. With the able leadership of the Church’s Operating Committee, Deacon Frank Jefferson, Deacon Curley Handy, Jr., Deacon Lloyd O. Lewis, Brother Solomon Cannon, and Sister Juanita Meadows, the Deacons and Trustees, auxiliary leaders and the Church family, New Sunlight moved forward in spite of the difficulties and obstacles.
REV. KEVIN E. DONALSON, PASTOR
On April 17, 1999, Reverend Kevin E. Donalson was elected as the eleventh (11th) pastor of New Sunlight Baptist Church. This spirit-filled pastor began a new chapter with a new vision that empowered the members with a vision of God’s Word as instilled in him by the Heavenly Father.
On October 4, 1999, the death angel appeared and closed the 79th chapter on Pastor Emeritus V.E. Washington’s earthly life and called him to eternal rest.
With God’s divine guidance in 2000, we acquired the Agape House to serve as a goodwill house for the membership and community. Since its inception, hundreds of people have stepped through its doors to receive much needed food and clothing. On June 22, 2000, Haskell Street was renamed to V.E. Washington Street in honor of the late Dr. V.E. Washington. On October 26, 2003, we held the dedication ceremony for renaming the North Wing to the A.J. Cains Fellowship Hall in memory of Brother Cains in recognition of his hard work and efforts in support of New Sunlight, young men and the community. In the spring of 2004, we experienced the 40 Days of Purpose campaign on which the series of Sunday School lessons were based on at that time.
On October 2004, Sister Elizabeth Balkey Webb and Sister Judith Washington presented an idea of having an annual church health fair. Sister Washington, Sister Webb, and Deacon Lloyd O. Lewis acquired numerous organizations to participate. These agencies provided free services including a generous donation made by Health Systems 2000 of Lake Charles. Because of its outstanding support, the Health Fair was officially named the Alfred Smith Health Fair. In the late summer of 2004, the New Sunlight Baptist Day Care Center, in response to a great need from the community, began accepting and caring for babies six weeks and older. And, in the fall of 2004, our very own choir under the direction of Sister Janie Belinda Williams, placed in the number 8 position of the 10 top choirs in the nation.
In 2005, we saw a record-breaking hurricane season that brought thousands to our city in the wake of Katrina, a category 3 hurricane, on August 29th. Two-thousand five (2005) was also the year the New Sunlight members stepped forward with a host of others to open our church doors, our homes and our hearts to those who had lost everything from Hurricane Katrina. But God was not through with us yet. After Hurricane Rita, which came 25 days after Hurricane Katrina, many members saw themselves in the same plight as those affected by Katrina. But God is good and we felt the outpouring of love and support from across the nation as people from churches in the American Baptist Church network, family, and friends from all over the United States and local entities showered us with donations of food, clothing, financial donations and more.
In April 2006, the Church’s sanctuary was renovated because of damages suffered from Hurricane Rita. Like others in Lake Charles, Calcasieu, Cameron, New Orleans and many other cities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida we worked to rebuild our homes and our lives. And, as always, with the continued grace from God, we made it through to a new and brighter day.
In 2008, the Young Adults Ministry was reorganized. They started an annual contribution drive for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The Young People’s Department began a new ministry for children ages two years to 18 years called the AWANA Ministry. “Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed” comes from 2 Timothy 2:15.
On March 25, 2009, we were blessed to purchase the adjacent Purdy property on the corner of V.E. Washington and Mill Streets. The vision to purchase the property surrounding the church is always to assist us to meet the needs of the community. The New Sunlight Baptist Church Charter was amended on September 20, 2009 to a perpetual status to insure that the church’s charter will never expire and always be in existence. This was done under the leadership of Brother Adrian L. Wallace, Chairman of the Deacon Board and Brother Augustus G. Jackson, Jr., Chairman of the Trustee Board.
In December 2009, we ended another chapter in our church’s history as we bid farewell to our 11th pastor, Reverend Kevin E. Donalson, Sr., for his 10 years of service. We wished him every blessing and prayed that God will bless him and his family in his new pastoral duties.
In 2010, New Sunlight began the year wondering what the year would bring. Knowing the power of prayer and faith, the church went down in fervent prayer. Under the capable and efficient leadership of Deacon Adrian L. Wallace, Chairman of the Deacon Board, deacons, and other ministry leaders, with the guidance of Reverend Gerald W. Perkins, President of the 7th District Baptist Association, we began FASTING and PRAYING for thirty (30) days.
A Pulpit Committee was selected. While the committee began the search for New Sunlight’s next pastor, Reverend Perkins selected pastors and preachers to come and share the gospel with and to us. The process took some time and even though there were some challenges, through it all, the Church was determined to remember God was in control and would not forsake us. After no decision was made in the first election, it was suggested that we get an interim pastor. Reverend Harold Robinson, Sr., associate minister of Mount Calvary Baptist Church, was selected to serve. Reverend Robinson accepted the church’s request. He came in and availed himself to the congregation spiritually and physically. The church began moving and growing. The members were responding to his leadership and felt his warm concerns, thus, a strong relationship began.
The power of faith and prayer were at work. The Church met and after discussions and expounding, Reverend Robinson was asked to consider the pasturage of New Sunlight Baptist Church.
REV. HAROLD ROBINSON, SR., PASTOR
On October 17, 2010, Reverend Harold Robinson, Sr. was elected pastor. On November 18, 2010, Reverend Robinson was installed as the 12th pastor of the New Sunlight Baptist Church. During 2011, Rev. Robinson held a Leadership Conference for eight (8) weeks to empower and equip the leaders of New Sunlight. A follow-up Leadership Training was conducted for leaders who were not able to participate in the initial conference. Certificates were awarded to all participants by Pastor Robinson. New Members Orientations was revised and restarted. Certificates were also presented to all new members that completed the program.
After recognizing the need for renovations, a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee undertook the task to gird the membership in remodeling New Sunlight Baptist Church in 2011.
The purpose was to change with a progressive agenda to enhance God’s Kingdom.
Its objectives were to:
- Engage each member in the renovation process of New Sunlight Baptist Church.
- Implore the congregation to become actively involved in the renovation process by
praying and contributing financial gifts, and to
- Modernize the church through different phases.
The CIP committee met and brainstormed ideas to help generate funds for the project; thus formed the birthday roundup. The Church membership was divided into birthday groups which are chaired by leaders to aid in facilitating additional ideas to generate funds. Chris Carroll, a local contractor, was hired to undertake the assignment; working along with the committee to guide, assist and accomplish the goals. The renovations were prioritized into three different phases
The CIP Committee recognized that this project is a major undertaking and valued the concerns of the masses. With God’s favor and the collective efforts of all, New Sunlight moved forth basking in the array of newness.
In 2011, to celebrate Rev. Robinson’s 1st year of pastoral duties, we celebrated or honored this occasion in a very unique way, Rev. Robinson, living up to what he has been preaching and teaching, chose to have the church celebrate his anniversary with an Evangelistic Outreach at Sunlight Manor Apartments. No better honor or gift we can give to him than to gather, worship, fellowship, and win souls for Christ.
In 2012, to mark Rev. Robinson’s 2nd year as the pastor of New Sunlight, the occasion continued with Part II of an Evangelistic Outreach at Sunlight Manor Apartments, with Rev. Lionel Jones, pastor of Union Mission Baptist Church as guest minister.
In November, 2012 Phase I of the CIP was completed along with the upstairs and the library. As a part of the 116th Church Anniversary Celebration, a ribbon cutting and dedication was held on December 2, 2012. During 2013, Pastor Robinson held leadership classes for four (4) weeks. New members continued to complete new member’s orientation with the Pastor. Certificates were given to all of them that completed the study.
Pastor Robinson formed the Intercessory Prayer Ministry. New Sunlight marked the Pastor’s third year anniversary with another Evangelistic Outreach at Sunlight Manor Apartments. Rev. Elmore Garner, Pastor of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church was the guest minister. After the outreach, a celebration of thanks and appreciation was held at the church.
In 2013 New Sunlight set out to improve its leadership skills. The pastor scheduled leadership workshops to achieve these goals. Each ministry was closely looked at, measuring its growth and effectiveness.
As the church faced 2014, the members continued to engage in ways to become more knowledgeable of God’s Word and to become better disciples. The church chose a special book entitled, “GRACE,” More Than We Deserve – Greater Than We Imagine” by Max Lucado. During the Wednesday Evening Bible Study, the church with Pastor Robinson and other different members leading the discussions, reviewed the chapters in the book. The church became enthused and found the book very helpful and informative. New Sunlight marked the 4th Anniversary of Pastor Robinson with an Evangelistic Outreach at Sunlight Manor. Evangelism is dear to our Pastor. The members, his family and guests then returned to the church for a program to express our love and appreciation to our pastor. Rev. Jimmy R. Stevens, pastor of the New Covenant Faith Baptist Church was the guest minister. The different ministries paid tributes and gave presents to Pastor Robinson. The occasion ended with a delicious lunch and fellowship enjoyed by all in attendance.
The members of New Sunlight begun 2015 with continued vigor and determination to continue being the church we know we are and determined to grow and become more spiritual saints as we work for the Master and in His Kingdom. Under the leadership of the Finance Committee and the Trustee Board a Building Fund Project was begun. The purpose was to remodel the sanctuary and the secretary’s office. The goal was to complete the project in 2016 as we celebrate 120th Year Anniversary.
On November 7, 2015, we celebrated Pastor, Rev. Harold Robinson, Sr.’s 5th Anniversary. The church’s Hospitality Committee served a delicious meal as we celebrated with our Pastor and his family. Gifts and words of thanks were also presented to the pastor. After serving as our Pastor for seven (7) years, Rev. Robinson moved on.
We continued praying that God would send us a Pastor after HIS own heart. The church selected a pulpit committee and all we had to do was put it in God’s hand and pray. We knew that HE would send us a Pastor.
The year of 2016 began with a week of corporate prayer and fasting, and resumed for additional months as the membership prepared itself spiritually for the task of finding the “one sent by GOD to be our Pastor.” Throughout the entire process, the Pulpit Committee opened itself to the will and guidance of the Holy Spirit and not their own understanding or preferences.
REV. ALFRED L. WILLIAMS, II, PASTOR
The Pulpit Committee through prayer, fasting and in obedience to the Holy Spirit, presented the Rev. Alfred L. Williams, II to the New Sunlight family for vote and following 1 Corinthians 1:10: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” After preaching and teaching for several days in latter June, the church prepared itself for the voting process and provided adequate notice to the membership.
On Saturday, July 22, 2017, the church overwhelmingly voted favorably for Rev. Williams to continue the pastoral legacy at New Sunlight Baptist Church. Bro. Adrian L. Wallace, Deacon Board Chairman, served as the Pulpit Committee Chairman. Other committee members included Sisters Sheral Lavergne, Verda Anthony, Bobbie Jefferson, Louisa James, Katrina Evans, and Brothers Mark Mitchell, Frankie Aught, Arthur Woodard, Jr., and James Gardiner. Pastor Williams was installed on Sunday, January 14, 2018.
Today, the various ministries of the church include Agape House’s Food and Clothing Ministry, a reconstructed Sunday School Ministry, Christian Education Board that has been reorganized following the Christian Education and Leadership Conference, Special Committee for Special Events, Laymen League, Women’s Home Mission (since 1954), Youth Department, Junior and Senior Ushers, Music Department which includes the Youth Choir, Children’s Choir, Male Chorus, Sanctuary Choir, NSBC Worship and Praise Team, Children’s Church (ages 12 and under), Art and Media Ministry, Prison Ministry, sponsor of the Angel Tree during Christmas), Seniors Ministry, Decorating Ministry, Hospitality Ministry, Historical Committee, Mission and Evangelism Board, the Social Action Ministry, and Housing for Alcoholics Anonymous Center (since 1954).
Under the leadership of Pastor A. L. Williams, II, New Sunlight Baptist Church added a Christian Leadership School (CLS), accredited by the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., to the list of the church’s ministries. Additionally, Sis. Verda D. Anthony received her national certification as Dean via the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. She is responsible for the operation of the CLS, which is under the auspices of the Board of Christian Education.
The school offers courses divided into four phases for the Certificate of Progress Program (COPP). COPP was designed to produce qualified church leaders with the following objectives:
- To increase the biblical knowledge of the student
- To create an understanding of the Baptist faith
- To provide an educational structure that will develop candidates qualified for teaching and leadership positions
- To provide incentives for the candidates to complete the program
- To produce trained church leaders
To date, two courses have been taught and New Sunlight’s CLS. Students are able to enroll in courses offered at other CLS(s) throughout the district, state, and national meetings/conventions. Four individuals have completed all four phases of the COPP, two of whom are Pastor Williams and Minister E. Brent Washington. Other members of the congregation are currently enrolled in the COPP working toward completion of the diploma in Christian Education.
The Board of Christian Education looks forward to continuing to organize, administer, and supervise the biblical education needs of the entire New Sunlight congregation currently, and in the future.
NEW SUNLIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH’S CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP FOR 2019:
We were blessed to continue leading souls to Christ. There were 14 new members added: Four (4) by Baptism, eight (8) by Christian experience, and two (2) by restoration. There were no Renewal of Vows nor were there any couples united in Holy Matrimony. Four (4) saints went home to be with the Lord including Sis. Shirley Hazeley on November 30, Jaylen Dorsey on December 16, Bro. Larry Edwards on April 26, and Bro. Claude Edwards on July 17.
As we continue our spiritual journey, we ask prayerfully that Christ’s spirit dwells in us as we share His glorious works and may His blessings multiply abundantly.
New Sunlight, God has blessed us and kept us in HIS care for 123 years. We can be confident that HE will continue to lead and guide us; all we have to do is trust and believe in HIM.
Sunlighters, let us not get weary! Let us look to HIM and hold on to our Faith. Let us continue to remember we are a FAMILY, PRAY, TRUST, BELIEVE, and remain STRONG. By faith in GOD ALMIGHTY, we have come from a brush arbor to a brick building, from a pump organ to an electric organ and piano, from cardboard fans to central air conditioning, from kerosene lamps to fluorescent lights, from a wood burning stove to central heat, and from 2’ x 4’ benches to custom seats. Financially and spiritually we are moving on, remembering our theme, “Unwavering in Hope and Commitment to Our GOD.” Related Scripture is from Hebrews 10: 23-25.
Revised: 12/01/19 by: The Historical Committee, Sis. Lizzie K. Syas, Chairperson