141-year-old church to be demolished for traffic roundabout

141-year-old church to be demolished for traffic roundabout
New location for Christ's Community Church on Juban Rd. (Source: WAFB)
New location for Christ's Community Church on Juban Rd. (Source: WAFB)

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - A church that sits on the corner in Denham Springs has a short time left standing. Eden Baptist Church, on the corner of Florida Boulevard and Eden Church Road, will be demolished by the state to make room for traffic improvements.

Eden Baptist Church is 141 years old, one of the oldest churches in Livingston Parish.

Three years ago, the church closed its doors and Pastor Willis Easley and Christ's Community Church moved into the building. Prior to that, Easley said his members met at Denham Springs Junior High on Sunday's.

Eighteen months after moving, Easley says they started hearing talk about a roundabout that was going to be built on Eden Church Road and Florida Boulevard.

The state's Department of Transportation and Development held a public hearing, Easley went. He says there he saw pictures of a red line through his sanctuary, when he asked what the line was he says he was told it was the state's right-of-way.

DOTD says the intersection where Eden Baptist sits is too congested. According to the state agency, 23,600 cars travel there each day. A roundabout, or traffic circle, is planned for the intersection to help with congestion and safety. Doing so means the church, which the state now owns, will be demolished.

"In just a few years, kids won't know why they call that Eden Church Road," Easley said.

Easely says he was told his church needed to be out of the building by August 1, 2014.

They started construction on a more permanent location for the church April 1, 2014. It's located on Juban Road, south of I-12.

Easley says years before the Juban interchange existed, his church bought property on Juban Road. It just sat there, while everything around it began to grow.

"Now the time is right for us to be here," he stated.

Outside, the church looks like a tent. Inside, the walls are covered in a type of fabric. A cross made from a log taken from the site when the land was cleared is featured in the sanctuary that fits 500 people. The cross was made by a member of the church.

Church officials and members also brought some of Eden Baptist Church with them: the solid wood pulpit, two rows of choir seating, and old flooring that was used to make a sign inside the church.

While he's glad to have a permanent place, Easley says the whole ordeal has reinforced a lesson he's always known.

"Our time here is short," he said. "But the church and the kkingdomof God goes on forever."

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