House of worship, closed for more than four years, set to reopen Saturday

Published 4:40 am Friday, June 21, 2024

The COVID-19 stay-at-home order marked the closing of the doors of Good Hope Baptist Church of Westlake. Hurricane damage and insurance reimbursement challenges kept it closed.

Saturday, June 22, at noon, the doors to the sanctuary will open once more after four years and three months.

Rev. Timothy Caesar is pastor. Dr. Samuel Tolbert, the pastor of Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church, and the president of the National Baptist Convention of America, International will bring the message.

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A meal will follow. The ribbon cutting event will feature special music and a special video presentation of Good Hope Baptist Church of Westlake — then and now.

“The following day, we will celebrate our 148th year,” Caesar said. He has been pastor for 30 years and a pastor at Good Hope Baptist of Westlake for the last eight.

Caesar said the new sanctuary looks a little different, a little more contemporary. That’s the biggest change.

Through it all, he kept the faith, and he said his congregation did the same — pastor and members who wanted to do so, stayed in touch via technology. He even hosted some training to help.

Not all his “flock” was interested in being a part of live streamed sermons or Flocknote, an email and text messaging tool created for churches, ministries and other community organizations. They were more comfortable with the church sanctuary being the place to gather to hear God’s word and worship.

Between the closing of the doors and Saturday’s service that will see them open again, members — over 100 at last count — encountered trials and celebrated victories.

“It was a new experience communicating by live streams,” the Good Hope pastor said, “I had to learn.”

The first time he streamed his message, his cousin texted to give him the heads up. The camera was upside down. New technology in the new sanctuary will make streaming of services possible, but the pastor is giving thanks for the remodeled sanctuary and hoping for a hurricane-free, in-person season of worship and fellowship for those set to turn the world upside down by sharing the good news.