Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, recently celebrated the last payment on $12 million debt that was previously owed for its 900,000-square-foot facility.
Members of the church, who purchased a vacant Shreveport shopping mall in 2003 and relocated there a year later, rejoiced during a unique Nov. 26 note-burning service that featured encouraging remarks by pastor Heath Peloquin and former pastors.
“I’m so proud of our people because they never stopped giving and never gave up,” pastor Heath Peloquin told the Baptist Message. “This has given us a renewed sense of why God has brought us here to do our part to reach Shreveport and be that light of Jesus to a lost and dying world that needs it. Now, I believe there will be new ministry opportunities because of retiring our debt, and we will have a renewed sense of being able to help more in areas where we have not been able to in the past.”
Changing mindset toward debt
When Peloquin became pastor in 2018, the church still owed $5.9 million on its facilities. He encouraged the church each year to pray, fast and give toward paying off the balance.
Even during COVID, the church remained faithful in giving extra toward the mortgage, including $100,000 in the final four weeks before the debt retirement. God also has blessed their faithfulness through an increase in worship attendance from 800 in January to 1,304 in late November, and baptisms (30 this year, compared to 28 in 2022).
“As time passed, I began to see God changing the mindset of our people,” he said. “They began to see debt not as this mountain to climb but as a means through which God revealed Himself. We realized God had this and began to see Ephesians 3:20 fulfilled.”
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Brian Blackwell and originally published by Baptist Message.