Community mourns death of beloved pastor

Published 5:04 pm Friday, February 9, 2024

The death of beloved minister Jimmy Ray Stevens, a community advocate and founding pastor of New Covenant Faith Baptist Church, is being mourned region-wide.

“Becky and I are absolutely heartbroken to hear about the death of Pastor Jimmy Stevens,” said Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter in a Facebook memorial post. “Pastor Stevens was a dear friend, a humble man of God, and a community leader. My heart is so heavy.”

He wasn’t alone in the sentiment.

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“Take your rest, Pastor Jimmy Stevens,” posted Darrious Hamilton. “What a tremendous, most humble man of God we had in our midst. You will sincerely be missed.”

“He was my pastor for over 20 years — great preacher and teacher, kind-hearted and very compassionate, true love for people and the Lord,” echoed Andrea Marie Chapman. “Still can’t believe he’s gone.”

Stevens died Jan. 31 at the age of 67.

He got his start behind the pulpit at Straightway Baptist Church in Moss Bluff in 1982, before he began preaching at Zion Tabernacle Baptist Church. There, Stevens played a major role in developing a ministry to young adults in the church and providing outreach to students of McNeese State University.

A graduate of Westlake High School, Stevens earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from McNeese State University. While attending McNeese, he co-founded the Voices of Truth Gospel Choir and he was the president of the Student Congress of African American Culture, which ultimately led to the hiring of more black professors at the university. He also was a member of the cast of the “A Raisin in the Sun,” the first Black drama performed at McNeese.

Upon graduation, he earned a Master of Theology from Cornerstone University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Lake Charles Bible College.

In 2004, Stevens became the founding pastor of the New Covenant Faith Baptist Church.
“Pastor Steven’s is one of God’s Prince of Preachers,” Robert Patrick posted.

“Great man of God,” Paula Lewis wrote.

A community leader, Stevens served on the boards of directors for the Seventh District Baptist Association,  Foreman-Reynard YMCA, McNeese State University Community Relations and Louisiana Missionary Baptist State Convention.

In addition to Southwest Louisiana, Stevens’ mission field took him to Haiti, Israel, Africa and the West Indies.

Stevens’ funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Baptist Church.