Pastor Woodrow Hayden
Our church was organized on March 6, 1921 by the late Rev. R. F. Royal with six members, namely, Robert Nixon, Charles Bruce, Bacchus Walker, Eddie Williams, Earlean Williams and Sara Royal. We held services on South Claiborne Avenue and Erato Street for three months in one room. We moved to 3219 Thalia Street where we purchased one lot of ground measuring 30 by 90 feet, with two rooms measuring 24 by 24 feet for $2,500. A partition was removed in the church and services were held there for three years. At the time, the membership increased to 114.
We borrowed $3,400 from Rhodes and Simms Realty Company to build a church building size 27 by 80 feet. On April 26, 1925, the church was dedicated unto the Lord. On April 27, 1925, the church burned completely. The church was insured for $2,500. We held services with Ebenezer Baptist Church on South Claiborne between First and Second Streets for three months, until we erected another building costing $4,100. Services were held in this building until January of 1931. Rev. R. F. Royal resigned thereafter and two-thirds of the members followed him. We moved to the Macedonia Baptist Church on Danneel Street between Fourth Street and Washington Avenue. In July 1933, we moved to 2537 Amelia Street. The remaining members held services with New Zion Baptist Church located at Third and LaSalle Street.
In May 1934, our membership grew to 217 and we moved to the present site, 2418 Louisiana Avenue. We purchased two lots with a two-story building for $3,500. Worship services were on the first floor and the second floor was rented out to societies. In September 1940, we remodeled the hall into a church building. In 1945, we had siding put on the church for $1,500. Eight o’clock Saturday morning, January 24, 1948, God called Rev. R. F. Royal home. He heeded the call and answered present. He finished his earthly mission and is now resting. The officers carried on very efficiently with Rev. Lloyd Antoine Gomez doing the official work. During that same year in July, the members elected Rev. Lloyd A. Gomez as Pastor. The church purchased pews, pulpit set, baby grand piano, electric fans, and a fountain. The church steadily moved on with God as our helper.
In 1954, Pastor Gomez recommended to the members that a new edifice should be built. The total cost for the new church was $54,000. The furnishings cost $ 5,800. While construction of the new sanctuary took place, we worshipped with Star Bethel Baptist Church for nine months, located at 3015 Loyola Avenue, where the Rev. Mason Thompson was Pastor. The new church edifice was completed in 1955. Our dedication service was held on the first Sunday in July. We marched into our new church representing one God, one Faith, and one Baptism. Afterwards, we purchased new instruments and added a modern dining room for a total of $ 4,800. During Pastor Gomez’s ministry, we held weekly radio broadcasts for fifteen years. Pastor Gomez led Greater Bright Morning Star Baptist Church from 1948 until 1979.
In 1980, we elected Pastor George Woods as our under shepherd. Under Pastor Woods’ leadership, scores of souls were added, numerous persons were married and buried. With God as our Savior and He keeping Greater Bright Morning Star, we purchased three double homes on Louisiana Avenue and one double home on LaSalle Street from Edward W. Coleman and Associates Realty. We also constructed a parking lot adjacent to the church. Pastor Woods served as our Pastor for sixteen years until his health failed him. The Reverend Willie Baker served as our Interim Pastor.
On September 21, 1997, through the divine will of God, the officers and members of Greater Bright Morning Star Baptist Church elected a new under shepherd, Pastor Woodrow Hayden. He is truly a man called, anointed, and appointed by God. Under Pastor Hayden’s leadership from September 1997 until present, he has baptized many souls, buried many saints, performed marriages and christenings, and we have seen God give increase to our membership.
The Lord showed Pastor Hayden in a vision before being elected as the Pastor of Greater Bright Morning Star, to build a new sanctuary and fellowship assembly to meet the needs of the members and the community. The rental properties adjacent to the church were torn down in October of 2003. The ”Star” family moved out of the old sanctuary by faith in February of 2004. We held our first worship service at First African Baptist Church of Sixth District, located at 3524 LaSalle Street. The Rev. Dr. Moses S. Gordon, II, is the Senior Pastor. Also, during the month of February, our sanctuary was torn down to make way for the “new” sanctuary and fellowship assembly. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in March in 2005. We held our worship services at First African from February 2004 until August 22, 2005.
During the early morning hours of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States arrived in New Orleans causing catastrophic damages to the greater New Orleans and Gulf Coast regions. “Katrina” means to cleanse. God in His infinite wisdom decided to cleanse the city of New Orleans. Most of our members were scattered across the United States. A small nucleus of members joined Pastor Hayden at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Westwego to have worship services during the months of March and April, 2006. On August 6, 2006, the remnant of Greater Bright Morning Star Baptist Church family assembled together to have our first worship service at the Olive Branch Baptist church in their Educational building located at 3222 DeArmas Street in Algiers. The Reverend Dr. Reginald Nicholas, Sr. is the Pastor/Teacher. With God first and Pastor Hayden as our leader, we pressed forward to do those things that the Lord ordained for this ministry. Under Pastor Hayden’s leadership, on August 27, 2006, the officers and members of Greater Bright Morning Star Baptist Church unanimously became a tithing church.
Habakkuk 2:3 states: “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry”. After being considered a “risk” and denied by several banks, Pastor Hayden trusted God and decided to step out on faith to start the construction process using all monies from the church’s savings account. On July 10, 2007, at God’s appointed time, the Lord allowed Pastor Hayden’s vision to manifest with the construction of our new sanctuary and fellowship assembly. We give God all the glory, honor and praise for this and a Pastor who has an unwavering faith. This part of history for the Greater Bright Morning Star family is a miraculous work of God, because He allowed this construction to be undertaken with only 28 adult members, a small remnant of our congregation prior to Hurricane Katrina. From August 2006 until April 2009, the Lord allowed these members to give $ 430,535.30. For the vision to come to pass, Pastor Woodrow Hayden relinquished his salary from 2006 and 2007.
On March 24, 2008, First Bank & Trust approved our church loan for $720,000. This is our testimony that “God can do more with less”! As the leader of our church, Pastor Woodrow Hayden and his armor bearers, Chairman Paul Sidney; Assistant Chairman Timothy Morris, Sr.; Deacon Frank Williams, Sr., and the late Deacon Horace Bean were the authorized promissory borrowers for the loan. In case of Pastor Hayden’s death, he took out a $1,000,000 life insurance policy to ensure that the sanctuary and fellowship assembly would be paid in full. Also, Deacon Timothy Morris, Sr. has volunteered to do the same.
Our rich church history could not be what it is today, without giving honor to those who helped us along the way. First, we would like to thank Pastor Moses S. Gordon, II and First African Baptist Church of Sixth District and Pastor Reginald Nicholas, Sr. and Olive Branch Baptist Church, for opening their doors and hearts to us. We thank God for the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church for also opening their doors to us, but especially, for fervently praying without ceasing for our beloved Pastor Woodrow Hayden. Finally, we praise and thank God for Pastor Taza Green and the Second Baptist Church family for planting a seed of $20,000 into this ministry for our construction process.
On May 31, 2009 at 5:00 pm, Pastor Woodrow, our visionary leader, the ministerial staff, officers and members of Greater Bright Morning Star Baptist Church, marched triumphantly into our new sanctuary and fellowship assembly. It was on this day that we consecrated our sanctuary and fellowship assembly unto God. A week of dedicatory services with guest Pastors and their congregations were held from June 1 – June 5, 2009. On November 2, 2009, the Lord almighty granted us favor with First Bank & Trust to secure another loan in the amount of $200,000 to purchase one four-plex and a double adjacent to the church for our parking lot. On March 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm, with our visionary leader Pastor Hayden, the officers, and members of Greater Bright Morning Star Baptist Church, consecrated and dedicated our church parking lot back to God. Presently, we now have 198 members (136 adult members and 62 children/young adults). As we remain humbly under Pastor Hayden’s guidance and leadership, we are confident that the Lord will continue to bless this ministry bountifully as we do His will, and work of building God’s kingdom. We are a congregation of believers who will continue to walk by faith and not sight, as we follow our leader Pastor Hayden, as he continues to follow Christ!