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New Orleans congregation celebrates 100 years of international mission

St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church has long supported mission activities worldwide

By Henrietta Augustus Harris and John Geiser III | Special to Presbyterian News Service

St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church helped to fund the expansion of an outdoor kitchen at El Fuerte church in Cardenas, Cuba. The kitchen was dedicated in 2017. SCAPC’s Presbyterian Women donated aprons with the church’s logo to the women of El Fuerte. (Courtesy of SCAPC)

NEW ORLEANS — What began as the St. Charles Avenue Branch of the First Presbyterian Church, renamed St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church (SCAPC) in 1920, has had a strong commitment to global ministries for more than a century.

The church plans a month-long celebration and commemorative book to focus on past and present mission work to inspire SCAPC members to even greater efforts to serve Jesus Christ worldwide. Photographs and documents from the Presbyterian Historical Society and SCAPC’s own collection will be on display at the church, highlighting international mission activities and projects over the years.

The celebration will culminate in a dinner on September 27 featuring speakers, a video presentation and Brazilian food to pay tribute to the congregation’s first overseas mission established in 1917.

A special offering will also be taken up to provide for an expanded program of global ministries.

Malawi 2016 Christian Christmas Camp: Blantyre Presbyterian Synod. St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church sponsored 60 youth. (Courtesy of SCAPC)

In 1905, the First Presbyterian Church began an uptown afternoon Sunday school as a mission project. This mission was led by Miss Rowena McMillan and held at 1653 Octavia St., which was at that time Haughn Institute, a private school for girls. The next year the afternoon Sunday school moved to a residence purchased by First Presbyterian Church at the corner of St. Charles Avenue and State Street.

The afternoon Sunday school grew into regular worship services at the St. Charles Avenue Branch of the First Presbyterian Church. In 1917 the Branch Church called John Samuel Land, a recent graduate of Columbia Seminary, as its first full-time pastor. That year, at the encouragement of Mr. and Mrs. William B. Bloomfield, members and leaders of the Branch, began to support mission efforts around the world, first in Brazil.

In June 2017, St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church completed an intergenerational mission trip to the Dominican Republic with 5 youth and 6 adult participants. (Courtesy of SCAPC)

In 1918, the congregation began supporting missionaries in China and Korea. Mexico was added in 1929 and, over the past 100 years, SCAPC has supported mission projects and more than 50 mission co-workers in more than 20 countries, including Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Congo/Zaire, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Korea, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Dr. Land served as the congregation’s pastor until 1959.

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