The History of St. Charles

St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church’s first location on the avenue, at St. Charles and Hillary.

St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church’s first location on the avenue, at St. Charles and Hillary.

After gathering for 14 years as a mission of Coliseum Baptist Church, 26 charter members created the Carrollton Baptist Church at the corner of Maple and Cherokee Streets on Nov. 16, 1898. Three years later, the city of Carrollton was annexed by the city of New Orleans. The small congregation of Carrollton Baptist Church then purchased property on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Hillary Street, and we have been the St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church ever since. Seeing an opportunity to serve the University neighborhood, we secured a lot on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Audubon Street in 1924, built our current sanctuary building in 2915, and in 1926 moved to our present location.

Throughout the 20th century, we were a leading congregation in Southern Baptist Life. An early incubator and supporter of community engagement efforts, we supported the creation of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the Southern Baptist Hospital, and every other Baptist Home Mission agency in New Orleans. While a vital part of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 19th and 20th centuries, we terminated that affiliation at the turn of the 21st century due to significant doctrinal and theological differences.

Likewise, we have long been known for our progressive stances and creative leadership with an inaugural priority of theologically educated clergy, ecumenical acceptance of baptisms as early as 1901, inclusion of women in church committees and decision in the 1920s, and outspoken preaching and action by the late Dr. G. Avery Lee in the 1950s and 60s during the Civil Rights movement. In 1971, we became the first Baptist church in Louisiana to ordain women as deacons. In 1980, we then became the first Baptist church in Louisiana to ordain a woman to the Gospel ministry. Finally, 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 United States 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.