A group of Latter-day Saints in Chalmette, New Oreans, finds strength through one another as they meet in a shared building for weekly sacrament services — a tradition they have practiced since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their meetinghouse in 2005.
Church member Willard Powell remembers the original building well. “I served in the Stake Presidency over the Slidell Stake and was involved in selecting the Chalmette church property back in the 70’s,” Powell told NOLA.com. “I remember laying the sod on my hands and knees in the yard. I remember many faithful people from Chalmette. I cried when the building was destroyed, and when I heard how helicopters rescued saints from the roof top. It hurt me.”
Bishop William Van Buskirk currently presides over the ward where Chalmette saints have been meeting, the New Orleans First Ward.
“The first prompting I had when called as Bishop was to find a home for the Saints in Chalmette,” Van Buskirk said. “We will miss you in our ward, but the Lord wants this to happen and He needs your hands to make it happen.”
Following this inspiration, a separate sacrament meeting was created for Chalmette Saints. Van Buskirk still plans to oversee the members in Chalmette, but the group’s meetings will be led by Josh Farrell, with Randy Landers and Tony Hatcher as assistants.
“My family and I really love the people here,” Farrell said. “A career change led us here and, although we planned to live elsewhere, we are happy to be here. We received a phenomenal welcome and feel loved here in this community.”
Until they can establish a more permanent location, the group of Chalmette Saints will be meeting in a local Methodist Church building. Farrell is humbled by his call to facilitate this group of Saints, and strives to guide them according to the Lord’s will:
The Lord led us here and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve. I pray to be inspired to do what the Lord wants.
The group encourages visitors to attend their Sunday meetings, should they find themselves in the Greater New Orleans area.