St. John’s United Methodist Church was founded in June 1961 by 60 charter members. under the spiritual leadership of Pastor Thomas Babington III.
After organizational meetings at Highland School, the new congregation moved to a private house on Kimbro Drive until a permanent church home could be built. With 1000 Club aid, property on Highland Road was secured and construction begun. Ground was broken for the present sanctuary in August 1962, which was dedicated Easter Sunday 1963.
Through the years, St. John’s has purchased additional properties adjacent to the original lot and currently owns 6.3 acres of land in one block.
For a decade, the sanctuary building housed offices, Sunday school areas, and a kitchen for the growing congregation. In 1973, the church youth group purchased a white frame building from University Presbyterian for $1.00. This building, after being moved and renovated, provided much needed space for church activities.
As St. John’s continued to grow, additional space became a necessity. The gymnasium/multipurpose building was added in 1980. The Education Building replaced the white house in 1987. The current parsonage was purchased in 1984. In 1991, St. John’s purchased three acres adjacent to the current church property for the purpose of keeping up with the fast-growing congregation.
Since its beginning, many strong spiritual leaders have served as pastors of St. John’s. They are Thomas Babington III, Harold Price, William Peeples, Robert Bengston, Thomas Dunbar, Grayson Watson, Peter Harrington, Donald McDowell, Al Tricket, Kathy Shaffhauser, Donald Webb, Dick Humphries, Liz Wyatt, Donald Avery, Bill Youngblood, Tim Lawson, Russell Clunan, Jo Ann Cooper, Juan Huertas, Sarah Shoup, Jay Hogewood, Lane Cotton Winn, Julia Puac-Romero and Deirdre’ Halliburton.
Through the years, St. John’s has grown with the surrounding community, offering a wide variety of outreach ministries including Scout troops, the United Methodist HOPE Ministries, Opening Doors, Angel Tree, St. Vincent De Paul and a community-wide free tutoring program.
In July 2012, The Shepherd’s Market, an Opening Doors ministry, began operation. The Shepherd’s Market is a client-choice food pantry serving the hungry and needy in our South Baton Rouge neighborhood.
In January 2012, St. John’s began the process of studying our campus and the needs of our campus for the next several years. St. John’s identified two pressing areas of need to tackle in building and improving our campus: renovating the gym to add much needed heating and air conditioning, new floors, lighting, audiovisual capabilities and added storage. The second phase of the project added a Narthex to the sanctuary, refurbished the sanctuary and completed the covered sidewalk to the sanctuary.
In 2015, St. John’s members and clergy recorded “Joyful Moments” videos, in which they shared the joy of God’s love in their lives along with favorite Scripture passages. The #sjjoy2015 videos are available on our St. John’s Joyful Moments 2015 Vimeo channel.
Beginning October 4, 2015, St. John’s UMC kicked off The Walk. The Walk was the capital campaign to raise $1.5 million to fund the two-phased project. We broke ground for the Family Life Center, a renovation and expansion of our gym building, on November 15, 2015. Construction was complete in August 2016, just before flooding impacted many people in Baton Rouge and surrounding communities. Our Family Life Center was able to be a place of refuge, Operation Noah’s Ark, providing emergency shelter and food for survivors and later as a place for second responders to stay while they helped with the immediate aftermath of gutting flooded homes. Groups who stayed included Team Rubicon, IsraAID, Team Canada, AmericCorps and FEMA Corps.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Narthex took place on September 18, 2016. Construction began shortly thereafter, and our family of faith worshiped together in the renovated FLC during the months-long construction process. A consecration service for the new Narthex, renovated sanctuary, covered walkway and Burch Bell Tower and Thayer Bell took place May 20, 2017. Worship services resumed in the sanctuary on May 21, 2017.
Much talent can be found at St. John’s through those who lead and participate. It has become a sanctuary for families, a place of worship, a venue for study and fellowship, and a staging ground for witness and ministry.
We hope you will join us as we continue shaping people in the way of Jesus.