By Brian Blackwell, editor of the Baptist Message
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – The CENLA Pregnancy Center has seen a flurry of activity in the four months of 2022, from welcoming a new board chair to starting construction on a third site in the state.
After Brian Gunter stepped down as chairman of the board in March, Ed Tarpley stepped down as vice chairman. Gunter left the area to become the new pastor of First Baptist Church in Livingston. Tarpley is a member of Kingsville Baptist Church, Ball.
Todd St. Romain (member of St. Paul the Apostolic Catholic Church, Mansura) was elected vice-chairman of the 10-member council and Darryl Stagg (missions director, CenLa and Big Creek Baptist Associations) was elected new treasurer. Glen Harrigill (pastor, Riverside Baptist Church, Vidalia) is the representative for the Delta Baptist Association, Vidalia, a new board position.
CENLA Pregnancy Center Executive Director Claire Lemoine expressed her gratitude to Gunter, whose vision to create a pregnancy care center in 2014 came to fruition when the doors opened in 2017 at 1254 MacArthur Drive, on the ministry center campus of the Louisiana Baptist Convention in Alexandria.
“We appreciate the work Brian has done to help us move forward,” Lemoine told The Baptist Message. “Ed is committed to serving and we are excited for the days ahead.”
From January to mid-April, 143 women were served and 16 babies were saved through the ministry of the CENLA Pregnancy Center.
Since its opening in December 2017, the pregnancy center has served 1,133 women with services such as pregnancy decision support (by trained advocates), free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, information on pregnancy options, referrals to mental health counselors and obstetrician-gynaecologists, housing and affordable housing referrals, adoption support (guidance to help pregnant women with an adoption plan and limited financial assistance) and post-decision support that includes parenting education as well as recovery groups for those who regret having had an abortion.
In addition, the center meets the basic needs of mothers and babies by distributing food, cots, diapers, feminine hygiene products, car seats and clothing.
A total of 136 babies were saved (out of 197 unborn children of mothers who considered abortion) in the few years the ministry was fully operational (services were sometimes limited by state restrictions in 2020).
The center, which has locations in Alexandria and Marksville, will open its third location this summer.
Lemoine said a building was demolished in mid-April at the new Vidalia site to make way for a new structure.
Kimberly Butler, who is the customer advocacy coordinator at the Alexandria site, will become manager of the Vidalia center which will initially be open Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Vidalia site’s main needs are money to buy a new ultrasound machine and donations of furniture and other materials to furnish the building, Lemoine said.
“Ministry belongs to God and he entrusted it to us,” she said. “We are grateful for the dedicated service of all board members, past and present, who have been instrumental in listening and acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We continue to ask our community to pray for this vital ministry.
Visit cenlapc.com to find out how to support the CENLA Pregnancy Center.