A Brief History of Nola Baptist Church
Nola, a tiny spec of a spot on the Lawrence County map, was once a bustling community. The railroad ran through it, and a school, country stores, and places of worship gave it stability. When the railroad moved north, however, things changed. Nola was eventually left with a single intersection and one community store.
The Southern Baptist fellowship founded there in 1905 survived these and other changes as the century progressed, but by 2009, attendance under its steeple had dwindled to some eight regular attenders. There was no pastor, no church government, no deacon body, and no official Sunday school. The church simply opened its doors for Sunday morning worship and their yearly homecoming, which was faithfully attended.
But in God’s providence, Nola Baptist Church was rebirthed in 2011.
In October of that year, the church called Rev. Chris Sheppard as pastor after his completion of a one-year interim. The next month, the church called Keith Stovall as worship pastor. Both men assumed the role of elders after careful study of the biblical pattern, and they began the work of rebuilding the church. Sunday evening worship services were scheduled in addition to those already in place on Sunday mornings, making the preaching of God's Word a top priority. Wednesday evening prayer meetings were begun as well.
In time, God began to breathe new life into the work. Young couples and families from Nola and surrounding communities like Monticello, Brookhaven, and Wesson began attending. In fact, these days the church’s gravel parking lot is filled with minivans and pickups coming from a 45-mile range.
God eventually gave the church a burden for the children of the community, and ministries were developed to reach them. In 2012, Vacation Bible School and a Bible drills program were started as part of that effort.
In 2013, Nola Baptist became involved in international mission work in India, which led to Pastor Chris Sheppard’s vision trip to that country in 2014. Nola Baptist has since sponsored orphans, ministered to national pastors and Christian workers, and funded the building of a village church in India.
In 2016, systematic Bible study programs for youth and children were instituted.
The history of Nola Baptist Church continues to be written as a church that was almost closed has been rebirthed. New believers have been baptized, and Christians have matured in their knowledge of God's Word. With God's help, Nola Baptist will continue to grow into a biblically-healthy church for generations to come.
Read an article about Nola that was published in the Daily Leader on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.