The History of St. Charles

St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church’s first location at St. Charles and Hillary.

St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church’s first location at St. Charles and Hillary.

St. Charles got its start in the 1880s, when the Carrollton neighborhood in a sharp bend of the Mississippi River was a small city of its own.

The established Coliseum Baptist Church in New Orleans planted a mission in Carrollton, which thrived for 14 years. Then, on Nov. 16, 1898, 26 charter members created the Carrollton Baptist Church, at the corner of Maple and Cherokee Streets.

Three years later, New Orleans annexed the city of Carrollton. The small congregation of Carrollton Baptist Church purchased property on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Hillary Street. We have been the St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church ever since. In 1924, seeing an opportunity to serve the University neighborhood, we moved up the avenue and bought a lot at St. Charles Avenue and Audubon Street. We started building our current sanctuary building there in 1925, and in 1926 moved in. Since, the church has grown to occupy the entire block of 7100 St. Charles.

St. Charles was a vital part of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 19th and 20th century. An early incubator of community engagement, we supported creation of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Hospital and every other Baptist Home Mission agency in New Orleans. We terminated that affiliation at the turn of the 21st century due to significant doctrinal and theological differences.

We have long been known for our progressive stances and creative leadership. Examples include theologically educated clergy, ecumenical acceptance of baptisms as early as 1901, inclusion of women in church committees and decision-making in the 1920s, and outspoken preaching and Civil Rights action by the late Dr. G. Avery Lee in the 1950s and 60s. We became the first Baptist church in Louisiana to ordain women as deacons in 1971 and to ordain a woman to the Gospel ministry in 1980. In 2013, we called our first female pastor, also a first in Louisiana among congregations of similar denominational affiliation. And as marriage equality spread across the U.S. in 2015, so did our own inclusion of sacred vows in sacred space for all St. Charles members.

Today we enjoy an ecumenical and interfaith range of denominational and missional partnerships. Striving to be a prophetic voice of faith in New Orleans and beyond, we maintain an attitude of openness, spirit of acceptance and commitment to living out the way of Christ’s love.