Volunteer crew restores 154-year-old Donaldsonville church

Michael Tortorich
Donaldsonville Chief
A crew of volunteers teamed up to restore the Greater Nazarene Baptist Church in Donaldsonville.

The Carpenter's Hope, a Texas-based nonprofit organization, rallied a team of volunteers to repair the 154-year-old Greater Nazarene Baptist Church in Donaldsonville after it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ida in 2021.

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan highlighted the work of the volunteers during his biweekly Making Progress program, which is broadcast via Facebook Live on Tuesdays and Thursdays and on local radio Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Rev. Roy Davis hosted the group of 17 team members for the week of work on the church. Three members of the community joined in the effort, which was in late October.

The hurricane winds swept away most of the church's roof and areas of the exterior siding sustained damage. Items inside the sanctuary were lost.

The Carpenter's Hope collected before and after photos to show the progress.

During the week of work, the crew replaced the exterior siding. Work inside the sanctuary included a floor overlay of plywood to cover the floors. A wind and moisture barrier was installed on all inside exterior walls. New walls were added to allow for insulation, which the building did not have previously. And a new cover was installed for the in-floor baptistry.

The mayor led a Wednesday night devotion and shared the history of the city with the volunteers. The Rev. Darryl Smith of Mt. Zion Baptist Church hosted the team for lodging.

The crew completed around 99 percent of the planned project in one week. Church members plan to finish the last few areas.

Church members expressed in tears and words of gratitude how much the work mean to their church community. Members had plans to bulldoze the building and raise funds to construct a new building before the volunteers offered to help.

The Carpenter's Hope has planned recovery trips for Lake Charles (Feb. 5-11) and Mayfield, Kentucky (March 19-25).

Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Charles was damaged by Hurricane Laura in 2020, while Mayfield was hit by a tornado in December 2021.

The Carpenter's House is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information, see www.thecarpentershope.org.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at facebook.com/WeeklyCitizen and facebook.com/DonaldsonvilleChief.